Boating Under the Influence Checkpoints will be carried out across many California waterways

SACRAMENTO — California State Parks, its Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW), and more than 40 law enforcement entities across California will be participating in a nationwide boating under the influence effort (BUI) for the Fourth of July holiday. 

Dubbed “Operation Dry Water,” law enforcement entities will increase patrols and/or carry out BUI checkpoints on this holiday, known for being one of the deadliest holidays for recreational boating accidents.

For the 12th straight year, the goal of the Operation Dry Water campaign is to reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities and educate water enthusiasts about the deadly consequences of BUI. California and U.S. Coast Guard recreational boating accident statistics repeatedly show alcohol as a contributing factor, accounting for more than 20 percent of California’s boating fatalities over the past five years, where testing was conducted. Nationally, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal recreational boating accidents, according to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. 


“This coming holiday weekend, we recommend neither boat operators nor passengers drink alcoholic beverages while boating,” said DBW’s Acting Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “Everyone who drinks alcohol on board—not just the operator—is at risk. Intoxicated passengers can easily fall overboard, swim near the propeller, or cause a small vessel to capsize. Have fun, but leave the alcohol at home.”

It is against the law in California to operate a boat or water ski with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. Officers may also arrest boaters with a BAC less than 0.08 percent if conditions are deemed unsafe. BUI convictions can result in up to six months in jail and/or fines of up to $1,000. Two convictions within seven years could add a jail term of up to one year. Boaters caught operating under the influence may also have their voyage terminated and their vessel impounded.    

Outdoor enthusiasts are also reminded to recreate responsibly this summer by wearing life jackets and actively supervising children when recreating near or in California’s waterways. Life jackets can be borrowed for free at one of over 100 local life jacket loaner stations throughout the state. California-specific boating laws and safety tips can be found online at

For COVID-19 guidelines within the State Park System, please visit