Modified: June 24, 2016 9:07am
Buffalo, NY – Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard announces the Erie County Sheriff’s Marine Unit will be on heighten alert for boaters operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs during the annual Operation Dry Water campaign this weekend, June 24-26. Operation Dry Water is a nationally coordinated awareness and enforcement campaign focused on deterring boaters for operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
According to national statistics alcohol is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths and a leading factor in boating accidents; in 2015, 17% of boater deaths were alcohol related. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit will focus its efforts this weekend on deterring impaired boaters and educating the public about the dangers of boating while impaired.
Since the inception of the Operation Dry Water campaign in 2009, law enforcement officers have removed nearly 2,000 BWI operators for the nation’s waterways and the sheriff’s Marine Unit has made twenty BWI arrests in the past five years.
As recently as 11:20 p.m. yesterday, members of the Marine Unit made a Boating While Intoxicated arrest on the Niagara River. Marine patrol Deputies Coulombe and Okal stopped a vessel operated by John C. Sirianni, 40 of Williamsville, for not having sufficient navigational lights. Further investigation led to Sirianni’s arrest for BWI. The defendant was later released to a sober third party on tickets returnable to Buffalo City Court.
Water and weather conditions such as, the wind, noise, currents, and the movement of the boat intensifies the effects of drugs and alcohol and boaters can become impaired more quickly on the water than on land.
The Marine Unit’s BWI efforts are a season long campaign with the mission of reducing the number of BWI accidents and fatalities through increased boater awareness and having a visible presence on the water to deter alcohol and drug use.