A crackdown on impaired boating kicks off this weekend. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management will increase boat patrols in waterways starting Friday through Sunday.
DEM environmental police officer Jennifer Ogren said this weekend will focus more on raising awareness about safety and the dangers of boating while intoxicated.
“Fourth of July tends to be more of responding, because that’s when we are seeing a lot of activities and a lot of accidents and incidents,” said Ogren said. “So we kind of change our gears a little from educating and outreach to definite enforcement.”
“We also don’t have an open container law like you do in vehicles,” Ogren added. “So it is perfectly acceptable for someone to be driving around drinking a beer behind a wheel of a boat.”
But Ogren said the DEM strongly discourages that. She said it’s easier to get drunk out in the water because people get dehydrated easily. And they’re also exposed to engine fumes.
More boat patrols will be out on the water, mostly in the evenings. Officers will also patrol boat ramps and help boaters check their safety equipment. These efforts are part of a national campaign called Operation Dry Water.