As boaters begin to prepare for the 4th of July holiday, thousands of law enforcement officers across the U.S. will be on heightened alert looking for those violating boating under the influence laws.

Law enforcement agencies will be focused on educating boaters about safe boating practices, which includes keeping alcohol off the boat for both operators and passengers.

The Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division, in partnership with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the U.S. Coast Guard, will be participating in the national Operation Dry Water heightened awareness and enforcement weekend, which runs July 5–7.

Game Wardens across the state will be working to increase boater awareness of the dangers and risks associated with boating under the influence and will be on the lookout for impaired boaters.

Boaters will notice an overall increase in officer patrols. The priority during this holiday weekend is to provide boaters with a safe and enjoyable experience by removing dangerous and impaired boaters from the waterways.

“Every year, we see boating accidents and tragedies that could have been avoided, had alcohol or drug use not been a factor. As part of the community ourselves, our job is to ensure that recreational boaters, paddlers and anyone on our waters has a safe place to enjoy time with their family and friends,” said Col. Thomas Barnard, Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division Director. “Alcohol use can impair a boater’s judgement, balance, vision and reaction time. That is why we are joining all 50 states and six U.S. territories to do our part in keeping boaters safe and preventing accidents related to boating under the influence.”

Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal on all bodies of water and can lead to serious injuries and consequences. In Georgia, it is illegal to operate a vessel with a BAC level of .08 or higher - the same as it is to operate a vehicle.

DNR Law Enforcement reminds boaters to always boat sober and wear a life jacket when on the water this year.

For more information, visit operationdrywater.org or gadnrle.org.