Operation Dry Water: Cracking down on drunk boaters - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Operation Dry Water: Cracking down on drunk boaters

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Thousands of tourists will make their way to the coast this weekend for the Fourth of July, which means thousands of boats will be on the water.

Area law enforcement officials are cracking down on drunk boaters to keep people safe as part of Operation Dry Water -- a national campaign to crack down on boating while impaired.

Officials will be out in full force for the holiday weekend.

Just like a car, it's illegal to operate a boat if you're under the influence of alcohol. .08 is the legal limit.

Wildlife Resource Commission Officers like Fred Gorchess will be out on the water, checking to make sure boat drivers are sober.

"You have a lot of boats in a small area, so you have to pay attention to what's going on," said Gorchess.

That's not all. Gorchess and other officials are also checking to make sure boaters pack all the required safety equipment, including life preservers and a fire extinguisher.

It's a team effort. Extra law enforcement agencies from across the county will be out this week, with a message for anyone who thinks about drinking and boating.

"A lot of the accidents out here, alcohol does play a factor, so that's why we're out here," said Gorchess. "We're very strict and we don't cut breaks when it comes to boating under the influence."

Boating while impaired is a class II misdemeanor and comes with a mandatory court appearance, where a judge decides the punishment.

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