GILFORD — Captain Tim Dunleavy of the New Hampshire Marine Patrol says that arrests for boating under the influence were up over last year during Operation Dry Water, an operation held in the first week in July.
He said he wouldn’t have an official tally until the middle of next week, when reports are gathered from all patrol units. Last year only two BUI arrests were made during the operation, he said.
Dunleavy said that Operation Dry Water is a national awareness and enforcement campaign focused on reducing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities on the water.
He said patrols were increased both day and night on Lake Winnipesaukee and other lakes to provide “a stronger, more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water.”
He said a contributing factor to the increase was better weather than last year, when it was cold and rainy during the same period.
Dunleavy said boating activity on Lake Winnipesaukee is the highest it has been in the last eight to 10 years.
“We’re seeing big crowds on the weekends and it was especially busy around the Fourth of July,” said Dunleavy, who traced the increased activity to the recent heat wave as well as strong economy.
Dunleavy said officers were also making sure that all boats were following safe passage rules and were properly equipped.
He said the state has already suffered two boating deaths this year, both in the same accident in the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth in early May, when a boat collided with a navigation buoy.
Last year there were five boating related deaths in New Hampshire – none of which took place on Lake Winnipesaukee – and 11 drownings that were not boat-related.
Dunleavy said his main message of the campaign is for people not to drink when they are driving a car or boat.
The same blood alcohol limit of 0.08 applies to both driving a boat and a car.
“Driving while impaired is a national issue,” he said. “People are recreating and they have a certain mindset. We just encourage people if they want to use alcohol, do not drive.”
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is the No. 1 contributing factor to boating accidents in the United States and the leading factor in 15 percent of all boating deaths.