SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – With the Fourth of July weekend upon us, many will be taking their boats out onto lakes and rivers across the Commonwealth. Massachusetts Environmental Police want to make sure you and others are safe by enforcing laws on drinking and boating this weekend.
Environmental Police, including the Connecticut River Task Force, will be taking part of a nationwide campaign called Operation Dry Water that aims to reduce the number of people boating while under the influence (BUI). Typically during a holiday weekend, police see an increase in BUI incidents.
“The Fourth of July offers an excellent time for us all to get outside, enjoy the water with friends and family, and celebrate the holiday; however, we all must remain responsible while boating to ensure the operator, passengers, and those around us enjoy a safe experience,” said Massachusetts Environmental Police Colonel Shaun Santos. “Importantly, the Massachusetts Environmental Police and other public safety entities will be strongly enforcing the Commonwealth’s BUI law in an effort to reduce tragic incidents from occurring.”
The U.S. Coast Guard says an estimated 5,265 recreational boating accidents took place in 2020, with 767 deaths, 3,191 injuries and $62.5 million in damages.
Massachusetts state law prohibits operating any vehicle while under the influence. State laws also requires boaters to have personal flotation devices for all passengers.
On Thursday, Governor Charlie Baker filed legislation to increase fines for swimming outside designated waterfronts at state parks and beaches statewide. The legislation, “An Act Relative to Enhanced Enforcement of Swimming Limitations,” would increase the maximum fine to $500 for entering or swimming in any waters on Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) property that are not designated for swimming. The new bill would create a uniform maximum fine of $500 for entering or swimming in waters other than those designated for swimming by DCR.