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Coast Guard warns against drinking and boating

June 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Authorities are warning boaters if they plan to bring booze onboard, they had better bring a designated driver with them.

The U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement are holding "Operation Dry Water" this weekend, which targets boaters under the influence.

There will be an increase in patrols and breathalyzer tests.

"Unlike local law enforcement, we don't need reasonable suspicion to pull them over," Coast Guard Petty Officer Nick Kimose said.

According to the Coast Guard, more than half the people who died in boating accidents in the past nine years had a blood alcohol content level twice the legal limit of .08.

"A lot of people feel that boating and drinking goes hand in hand. You're out on the water enjoying the sun, everyone is relaxing, but it's just as dangerous as driving a car," Kimose said. "When you're driving a car, you have signs and stop lights and lanes to stay in. When you're on a boat, you don't have any of that. "

Though the legal blood alcohol limit is the same on or off a boat, the effects of alcohol can be magnified on a boat because a boater's equilibrium is off.

Last year, the operation netted 322 arrests and more than 4,000 citations.