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Marine Unit Cracking Down on BWI During Operation Dry Water



Buffalo, NY – Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard announces the Erie County Sheriff’s Marine Unit will be on heighten alert for boaters operating a vessel under the influence during the annual Operation Dry Water campaign this weekend, June 24-26. Operation Dry Water is a nationally coordinated awareness and enforcement campaign focused on deterring boaters for operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

According to national statistics alcohol is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths and a leading factor in boating accidents; in 2015, 17% of boater deaths were alcohol related. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit will focus its efforts this weekend on deterring impaired boaters and educating the public about the dangers of boating while impaired.

Since the inception of the Operation Dry Water campaign in 2009, law enforcement officers have removed nearly 2,000 BWI operators for the nation’s waterways and the sheriff’s Marine Unit has made twenty BWI arrests in the past five years.

As recently as 11:20 p.m. yesterday, members of the Marine Unit made a Boating While Intoxicated arrest on the Niagara River. Marine patrol Deputies Coulombe and Okal stopped a vessel operated by John C. Sirianni, 40 of Williamsville, for not having sufficient navigational lights. Further investigation led to Sirianni’s arrest for BWI. The defendant was later released to a sober third party on tickets returnable to Buffalo City Court.

Water and weather conditions such as, the wind, noise, currents, and the movement of the boat intensifies the effects of drugs and alcohol and boaters can become impaired more quickly on the water than on land.

The Marine Unit’s BWI efforts are a season long campaign with the mission of reducing the number of BWI accidents and fatalities through increased boater awareness and having a visible presence on the water to deter alcohol and drug use.


Boating While Intoxicated: An Overview

A conviction for boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs carries serious penalties, including jail time and fines. Anyone facing a such a charge should consult with a New York criminal defense attorney experienced in defending similar cases.

In New York, BWI and BUI fall under the New York Navigation Laws § 49-A and § 49-B, which define being under the influence as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .10 percent for a recreational vessel and .04 percent for a public vessel. In the State of New York, no person intoxicated by drugs or alcohol should operate a vessel.

New York Navigation Law § 49-A paragraph 2 states:

(a) No person shall operate a vessel upon the waters of the state while his ability to operate such vessel is impaired by the consumption of alcohol. A violation of this subdivision shall be an offense and shall be punishable by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than three hundred fifty dollars, or by imprisonment in a penitentiary or county jail for not more than fifteen days, or by both such fine and imprisonment. A person who operates a vessel in violation of this subdivision after being convicted of a violation of any subdivision of this section within the preceding five years shall be punished by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars nor more than fifteen hundred dollars, or by imprisonment of not more than thirty days in a penitentiary or county jail or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(b) No such person shall operate a vessel other than a public vessel while he has .10 of one per centum or more by weight of alcohol in his blood, breath, urine, or saliva, as determined by the chemical test made pursuant to the provisions of subdivision seven of this section.

(c) No such person shall operate a public vessel while he has .04 of one per centum or more by weight of alcohol in his blood, breath, urine, or saliva, as determined by the chemical test made pursuant to the provisions of subdivision seven of this section.

(d) No person shall operate a vessel while he is in an intoxicated condition.

(e) No person shall operate a vessel while his ability to operate such vessel is impaired by the use of a drug as defined by section one hundred fourteen-a of the vehicle and traffic law.


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