SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – We see it on Utah highways and streets. Police officers set up road blocks and extra patrols to catch those who drive under the influence.

Now it’s happening on Utah’s recreational waters. It’s called Operation Dry Water and will be active in Utah and the rest of the country over the holiday weekend.

Utah’s Boating Program Manager and Boating Law Administrator Ty Hunter said:

“Utah is participating in this program because we support and encourage safe boating practices.  ODW is an important program and one of many ways our state can discourage boat operation while under the influence.”


The 4th holiday is known for a huge increase in people using lakes and rivers and having boats on the water. There is also an increase in accidents on the water where alcohol is involved.

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths, and a leading factor in boating accidents according to 2019 U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Statistics.

According to information from NASBLA (The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators) Over the course of the three-day weekend, law enforcement officers and outreach partners will be on the water educating the boating public on the dangers associated with boating under the influence. Officers will also be on heightened alert for those in violation of boating under the influence laws and removing dangerous boaters from the waterways.

Utah State Park Ranger Gage Hoogveldt out on patrol at Deer Creek Reservoir. July 2019

Some people mistakenly believe that driving a boat is different than driving a car. The truth is the law is the same. You cannot drive either in Utah if you are under the influence. According to Ty Hunter:

“It is the same in the state of Utah!  Operating a motor vehicle, boat, and OHV while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal.” 

He wants every one to remember in Utah

“If you can drive it you can get a DUI if you’re under the influence.”

Another thing people on the water don’t always think about, consuming alcohol or other substances while boating is dangerous not just for the operator of the vessel but also the passengers. Unlike a car, impairment can lead to slips, falling overboard, and other injuries that can lead to death. The situations can be prevented if you stay sober on the water.

Operation Dry Water was started in 2009 and since that time 4,095 impaired boaters have been removed from the nation’s waterways.

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Tracy Smith
Tracy T. Smith is an award winning content producer/storyteller. He has a passionate interest in all things narrative and loves writing, photography, cinematography and visual storytelling.