Marine Unit Participating In National BWI Enforcement Campaign

Modified: June 29, 2018 8:06am

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BWI Carries Same Penalties as DWI


Buffalo, NY – Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard announced the Erie County Sheriff’s Office is participating in Operation Dry Water to educating boaters about boating under the influence.


As part of a nationally coordinated effort to educate boaters about the dangers of boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the Sheriff’s Marine Unit will be participating in Operation Dry Water. Operation Dry Water is a year-round national campaign focused on raising awareness about boating under the influence. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in recreational boater deaths and a leading contributor in boating accidents.*


“Our Marine Unit’s goal is to educate boaters about the laws regarding boating under the influence and to help boaters understand the danger of boating impaired. However, if the Marine Deputies encounter an impaired vessel operator, that individual will be arrested,” said Sheriff Howard.


In 2017, the Marie Unit made three BWI arrests, down from 2016.


The Sheriff’s Office is asking boaters to enjoy this boating season and help keep everyone safe by not drinking alcohol while on the water, or operating a boat after you have consumed alcohol. Use of both legal and illegal drugs also impairs judgment and reaction time and makes it dangerous to operate a boat.


In addition to the year-round campaign, the annual Operation Dry Water heightened awareness and enforcement weekend will take place June 29-July 1. This three-day weekend is a national weekend of increased enforcement of boating under the influence laws and recreational boater outreach. In 2017, 518 impaired operators were removed by law enforcement across the country during Operation Dry Water Weekend.


Effective November 1, 2016, New York State strengthened the penalties for BWI.  Now, a BWI offender is facing a 30-day sentence and will have all DWI and Driving While Ability Impaired convictions from the past five years taken into consideration during BWI sentencing.  In addition, BWI penalties are now similar to DWI and DWI-Drugs.


The enforcement period for Operation Dry Water is June 29 – July 1.