For Immediate Release: 6/30/2023

Division of Boating and Waterways Encourages Boaters to Boat Sober this Fourth of July Holiday Weekend

Operation Dry Water will carry out Boating Under the Influence checkpoints

Contact: Newsroom I Participating Agencies

California State Parks’ Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) reminds recreational boaters to avoid alcohol this Fourth of July holiday weekend, a time known for increased boaters on the waters where alcohol use is prevalent, as are subsequent boating incidents and fatalities. To combat impaired boating, law enforcement agencies across the country are intensifying their efforts July 1-3 as part of Operation Dry Water. In California, more than 44 law enforcement entities across California will increase patrols and/or carry out BUI checkpoints.

Launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard as well as local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, Operation Dry Water has drawn public attention to the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI) of alcohol and drugs. According to U.S. Coast Guard 2022 Recreational Boating Statistics, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 16% of deaths. 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.

“The combination of high water levels and expected heat wave, this Fourth of July holiday weekend, will drive more people into California’s waterways,” said DBW’s Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “Spending time in the outdoors is good for our mental, physical, and social health, but consuming alcohol and/or drugs can easily make these outdoor experiences dangerous. Boat Sober, Boat Safe, Stay Alive.”

In California, it is against the law 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.

This year’s Operation Dry Water California participants include:

California State Parks

Auburn State Recreation Area (SRA), El Dorado and Placer counties

Folsom Lake SRA, El Dorado, Placer and Sacramento counties

City Police Departments

South Lake Tahoe

County Sheriff Departments

Contra Costa          Madera                             Sonoma

Del Norte               Mono                                Stanislaus

El Dorado               Napa                                Sutter

Fresno                   Nevada                             Tehama

Glenn                    Placer                               Tulare

Humboldt               Plumas                             Tuolumne

Imperial                 San Bernardino                 Yolo

Kern                      San Joaquin                      Yuba

Lake                      Shasta                                   

Los Angeles            Solano

Harbor Patrols

Santa Barbara

U.S. Coast Guard Stations/ Sectors

Bodega Bay                                 Los Angeles/Long Beach

Channel Islands                           Monterey

Golden Gate                                Morro Bay

Hawksbill                                    Rio Vista

Humboldt Bay                             San Francisco

Lake Tahoe                                 Sockeye


A map of participating agencies with their contact information can be found at:

Outdoor enthusiasts are also reminded to recreate responsibly this summer by choosing safe waterway options, wearing life jackets, and actively supervising children when recreating near or in California’s waterways. California law requires all children under 13 to wear a life jacket on a boat and DBW encourages all boaters to wear a life jacket while boating. Life jackets can be borrowed for free at one of over 100 life jacket loaner stations located throughout the state.

DBW would also like to remind the public that as of Jan. 1, 2023, all motorized vessels operators 50 years of age or younger are required to complete an approved boating safety course and obtain a California Boater Card prior to operating on state waters. Operators who are not in compliance with the law and caught operating without their card will be cited accordingly. This is considered an infraction and base fines can range anywhere from $100 – $500. Please visit for information about the law, a list of approved courses (including a free one), and how to apply for your card.

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California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.