RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) -
More than 5000 law enforcement officers nationwide will be patrolling waterways starting this weekend as part of a nationwide campaign called "Operation: Dry Water" and the goal is to keep people safe.
Police will be on patrol looking for boaters who are drinking, operating recklessly and breaking the law.
"From our shores to our mountains, our officers will be out on patrol," says Sgt. Wayne Weller of the Virginia Department of Game and Fisheries.
In 2012, 1,809 boating relating citations were issues on Virginia rivers, lakes, streams and canals. 62 people were hurt and 14 people died. 86 percent of fatalities were due to drowning associated with not wearing a life jacket.
"The boat is nothing more than a vehicle. The transference is from the asphalt to the waterway. We should always be operating our vessels the same way we operate our automobiles," Weller says.
Investigators say a lot of people don't even know that it's illegal to drink while behind the wheel of a boat and this weekend gives them a chance to educate the public.
Officers say many boaters wrongly believe they can get away with anything on the water, but this weekend, police will be out spreading that message.
"All entities and all levels of law enforcement are involved with the operation," Weller says. "This is a program designed for awareness."
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond