The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Community Traffic Safety Project, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
(PFBC) and state and local law enforcement today met at Flynn Beverage in Towanda to promote safe driving and boating during an Independence Day Impaired Driving Mobilization.
Participants discussed regional DUI patrols both on and off the water as part of this year’s impaired driving mobilization which runs from June 22 through July 4.
The Independence Day weekend is the busiest period of the boating season as well as the most dangerous on the waterways.
According to Boat U.S. Foundation, boating stressors such as exposure to noise, vibration, sun, glare, wind and the motion of the water, affects boat operators and passengers, thus making drinking while boating even more dangerous than drinking and driving. Research shows that hours of exposure to boating stressors produces a kind of a fatigue, or "boater's hypnosis" which slows reaction time almost as much as if you were legally impaired. Adding alcohol or drugs to boating stress-factors intensifies their effects - increasing your crash risk.
Under Pennsylvania law, boat operators can be arrested for BUI while operating any watercraft if they are incapable of safe operation regardless of any blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Pennsylvania is a boating destination state; boaters drive to and from their places of boating. When boat operators consume alcoholic beverages or take controlled substances while boating and then get into a motor vehicle to drive home, a BUI becomes a DUI.
According to PennDOT data, last year there were 2,909 vehicle crashes resulting in 36 fatalities during the Independence Day Holiday from Friday, June 26, to Sunday, July 5. Additionally, in 2015 there were also 52,382 DUI arrests made, a decrease from the 52,636 arrests made the previous year.
The number of DUI-drug arrests continues to increase, with 26,832 charges for driving under the influence of an impairing drug filed last year as compared to 20,691 in 2014. Drugs now account for 50 percent of DUI arrests in Pennsylvania. PennDOT encourages drivers to plan ahead by either designating a sober driver or arranging for alternate transportation.