Maine Marine Patrol to focus on boating under the influence and boating safety ahead of 4th of July

Wed, 07/03/2024 - 8:30am

    The Maine Marine Patrol will once again be looking out for anyone violating Maine’s boating under the influence laws and sharing safety information during the national Operation Dry Water weekend, July 4-July 6.

    Operation Dry Water is a national awareness and enforcement campaign coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard as well as local, state and federal law enforcement agencies that focuses on deterring boaters from boating under the influence (BUI) of drugs or alcohol.

    “Maine Marine Patrol Officers will be conducting targeted patrols along the coast from Kittery to the Canadian border focused on boaters who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said Maine Marine Patrol Major Rob Beal.

    Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating incidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 18% of deaths.

    “Boating under the influence is a preventable crime,” said Major Beal. “The Maine Marine Patrol strongly encourages boaters to stay safe by remaining sober while boating.”

    Environmental stressors such as sun, wind, noise, and the movement of the boat while on the water intensify the effects of alcohol or drug use on an individual while boating. Boaters can become impaired more quickly on the water than on land.

    Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is against the law in Maine. BUI laws pertain to all vessels, from rowboats and kayaks to the largest ships.

    Since the inception of the Operation Dry Water Campaign in 2009, law enforcement officers have removed 6,869 BUI operators from the nation’s waterways and made contact with over 2.8 million boaters during the annual three-day weekend. The campaign continues to make a significant impact on boater safety and spreading the message of the danger of boating under the influence

    In 2023 the Maine Marine Patrol checked hundreds of recreational boats during Operation Dry Water details along the Maine coast, which resulted in numerous recreational boating safety violations.

    “We not only address safety and BUI violations during this campaign, but we also take the opportunity to talk with recreational boaters about the importance of boating sober and safely, and we will continue with that effort this year,” said Major Beal. “Education and outreach is key in this effort.”

    “Marine Patrol will also encourage safe boating practices, especially the importance of wearing life jackets,” said Major Beal. According to the latest US Coast Guard statistics, drowning accounted for 75 percent of deaths, with 87 percent of those victims not wearing life jackets.

    In Maine, all children 10 and under must wear a life jacket. Adults don't have to wear them, but they must be available on board for every occupant.

    Marine Patrol officers will also be sharing the safety message with paddlers. “Maine’s ocean temperatures, even in summer, can be extremely cold, and the weather can change very quickly,” said Major Beal. “We strongly encourage paddlers to dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. We also urge paddlers to wear a life jacket at all times while on the water, file a float plan, have proper communications and navigation equipment, and check the weather before you go.”

    “Paddlers should also check with organizations like the Maine Association of Sea Kayak Guides and Instructors for information on safe paddling,” said Major Beal.

    For more information on recreational boating safety, visit

    For more information on Operation Dry Water, please visit