HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — This holiday weekend, police are expecting many boaters out on the water across Virginia.
“During the COVID, many people were trying to get outdoors so many people went out and purchased boats that may not have been educated on laws,” said Sgt. Tyler Bumgarner with Virginia Conservation Police.
He said under a nationwide effort called Operation Dry Water, you can expect to see more police on the water Friday, July 2 through Sunday, July 4 looking out for incidents of Boating Under the Influence, or BUIs.
Boating Under the Influence is a misdemeanor charge in the Commonwealth.
“If you’re over 0.08 [blood alcohol content level] you could be arrested, as well as incur jail time, could be fined and your boat could be impounded,” Sgt. Bumgarner explained.
If you are pulled over by police while on a boat, they could check your life jackets.
“Depending on what type of vessel you have, you’re required to have a wearable life jacket for each person on board that’s serviceable, so it doesn’t have any rips or tears, and it also fits them,” he told 8News.
About 86 percent of people who drown were not wearing a life jacket, according to Bumgarner.
“It’s very important that you not only have your PFD [personal floatation device], but you wear it,” he said.
Sgt. Bumgarner also said you should have other safety equipment on board like a fire extinguisher, flares, a floatation device you can throw in the water and in accordance with a new federal law, attach your electronic kill switch to your person, if your boat has one.
He adds that you should complete a float plan and give it to someone you trust before you head out on the water. If your friends or family do not hear from you, this form could help law enforcement find you faster and easier.