US Coast Guard out in force to catch drunk boaters over 4th of July weekend

U.S. Coast Guard

MILWAUKEE -- The Fourth of July holiday is meant to be a good time but boating under the influence (BUI) is nothing to joke about. The U.S. Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies have a plan to keep boaters on Lake Michigan safe.

It's a plan to keep boaters out on Lake Michigan safe over the holiday weekend.

"This weekend, the 5th through the 7th, is what's called 'Operation Dry Water,'" said Lt. Phillip Gurtler, U.S. Coast Guard.

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

Despite it taking place out on the water, the Coast Guard says they have every intention of keeping things dry.

"Really to focus in on boating under the influence of alcohol," said Lt. Gurtler.

The Coast Guard stationed out of Milwaukee says "Operation Dry Water" is looking for those would-be captains who are acting recklessly.

"Federally it is .08 blood alcohol content. Wisconsin that is the same," said Lt. Gurtler. "Even if you're not at that .08, you are affected and a lot of people aren't as confident out on the water say as they are in a vehicle."

Boats at South Shore Yacht Club

Enforcing the operation is a fleet of nearly two dozen boats.

"Doing boardings, performing those tests to see if people are actually boating under the influence," said Lt. Gurtler.

If their track record is any indication of how serious they take this, they're not messing around.

"In 2016, we did 367 issued citations for BUI. We boarded and made contact with over 131,000 people out on the water," Lt. Gurtler said. "There's fines, they can terminate your voyage, which means they`ll actually escort you back in and stop you from having your event out on the water.'

The penalties for boating under the influence are the same as if you were driving a car under the influence. Don't let a reckless decision on the water put you in jail back on land.

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