HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 27) – As the busy July 4th holiday approaches, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) waterways conservation officers (WCO) will be focusing on keeping boaters safe by cracking down on boating under the influence (BUI) as part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign, which runs from June 30 – July 2.

In partnership with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the PFBC is working to increase boater awareness of the hazards associated with boating under the influence, and to decrease the number of accidents and deaths attributed to impaired boating and other unsafe boating practices.

"As a part of the community ourselves, we want to ensure that recreational boaters, paddlers, and anyone enjoying our waters have a safe place to spend their time on the water, " says Col. Corey Britcher, Director of the PFBC Bureau of Law Enforcement. “Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time on the water just as it does when driving a car, even more so because of the added stressors of sun, heat, wind, and noise on a boat.

“Choosing to consume alcohol while boating puts everyone at risk, including passengers and people in the water,” he adds. “Our goal is to remove anyone choosing to operate a vessel impaired and to keep everyone else safe.”

Last year across the state, 11 individuals died in boating accidents. Alcohol was a contributing factor in six of the cases.

Throughout the weekend and through July 4, boaters will notice an increase in the numbers of officers on the water and at recreational boating checkpoints. This effort will result in the removal of impaired operators, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for boaters this boating season.

So far this year, PFBC waterways conservation officers have arrested 14 individuals for boating under the influence:

  • Allegheny County, Monongahela River – 1; Allegheny River – 1
  • Crawford County, Conneaut Lake – 1
  • Dauphin County, Susquehanna River – 1
  • Delaware County, Delaware River – 2
  • Huntingdon County, Raystown Lake – 2; Raystown Branch Juniata River – 1
  • Lancaster County, Susquehanna River – 2
  • Lycoming County, Pine Creek – 3

Waterways conservation officers arrested 90 individuals in 2016; 48 individuals in 2015; 93 individuals in 2014; 90 individuals in 2013; 60 individuals in 2012; 62 in 2011; and 65 in 2010.

Filtered by region, WCOs in 2016 arrested the following number of individuals for BUI:

  • 15 in Northwest Region (Counties – Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Warren)
  • 18 in Southwest Region (Counties - Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland)
  • 13 in Northcentral Region (Counties - Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Tioga, Union)
  • 23 in Southcentral Region (Counties - Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, York)
  • 10 in Northeast Region (Counties - Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming)
  • 11 in Southeast Region (Counties - Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Schuylkill)

“Many boaters may not know that the threshold for BUI is the same as with motor vehicles – 0.08 percent,” added Britcher. “If you are found to be impaired and operating a boat you will be arrested.”

Tips to staying safe on the water this summer include:

  • Boat sober. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths*. Alcohol and drugs use impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.
  • Wear your life jacket. 85% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket*.
  • Take a boating safety education course. 71% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction, where instruction was known*.

Visit operationdrywater.org for more information about boating under the influence.

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*2015 U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics.

Media Contacts:

Please contact the regional law enforcement office covering your area to schedule an interview with a waterways conservation officer.

Northwest Region (Counties – Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Warren)

Regional Manager - Captain Tom Edwards, (814) 337-0444

Southwest Region (Counties - Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland)

Assistant Regional Manager – Sergeant John Hopkins, (814) 445-8974

Northcentral Region (Counties - Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Tioga, Union)

Regional Manager – Captain Jerry Barton, (814) 359-5250

Southcentral Region(Counties - Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, York)

Regional Manager – Captain Alan Robinson, (717) 486-7087

Northeast Region (Counties - Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming)

Regional Manager – Captain Clyde Warner, (570) 477-5717

Southeast Region (Counties - Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Schuylkill)

Regional Manager – Captain Ray Bednarchik, (717) 626-0228

Harrisburg – Eric Levis, Press Secretary

(717) 705-7806 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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