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Boating while intoxicated crackdown begins June 30 in Buffalo area

The Erie County Sheriff's Marine Patrol and many other law enforcement agencies will be targeting boaters, kayakers and other water vessel operators who are impaired by alcohol or drug use as part of a national water safety program called Operation Dry Water.

Sheriff Timothy B. Howard said the goal of the program, in effect June 30 through July 2, is to enhance enforcement and educate the public about the dangers of boating-while-intoxicated on area waterways, including the Buffalo and Niagara rivers, Lake Erie and the Erie Barge Canal.

Howard said his office has a "zero tolerance" policy toward impaired operators of water vessels. He said his Marine Unit made 10 arrests for BWI in 2016. He said stiffer penalties for the crime took effect in New York State last November.

"Even some prescription medications can make operating a recreational vessel unsafe, and everyone is encouraged to check with their doctor to learn the effects of any medications they are taking," the sheriff said.

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