TAMPA, Fla. - If you plan to spend your Fourth of July holiday out on the water, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has a few words of caution for boaters along with a reminder that they too will be out on the water to make sure people are staying safe and following the rules.
It’s all part of their annual Operation Dry Water, an effort to make sure boaters are being safe and responsible while on the water this holiday weekend.
HCSO, along with Florida wildlife officials, will be on high alert for boaters under the influence during their three-day long operation. During Operation Dry Water last year, 17 citations were issued and a total of five people were arrested for BUIs.
Every year, HCSO issues the same words of caution to remind boaters of the rules out on the water, especially not to drink and boat. Despite those warnings, however, the consequences of rules being ignored are evident. Last year, Florida had five fatalities and 68 injuries in the month of July due to people boating while intoxicated.
But this year those reminders may be more important than ever before. Due to COVID-19, boat sales are up. That means there’s more inexperienced boaters out on the waterways. Sheriff Chronister said it’s not only important for these new boaters to follow the rules, but for experienced boaters to stay aware.
HCSO has also placed electronic signs at entrances to boat ramp’s throughout the county to remind boaters to put the drink down and not take the risk.