OLD LYME, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is kicking off “Operation Dry Water,” an effort to target drunken boaters.

DEEP environmental conservation officers and other DEEP officials on Friday discussed the multi-agency law enforcement and education initiative at DEEP’s Marine Headquarters in Old Lyme on Friday.

Law enforcement efforts will focus on boaters travelling the Connecticut River.

“We can do random safety checks on vessels to make sure that they have their proper safety equipment, such as their personal flotation devices,” Conservation Officer Captain Ryan Healey told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

He said that gives them an excellent opportunity to check out the state of the ship’s captain in the interest of passenger welfare.

He said that last year, 67 percent of boating accidents in Connecticut that resulted in fatalities were alcohol-related. He said the national average was about 17 percent.

Boat operators found in violation of the law can face huge fines and even impoundment.

The Operation Dry Water program was originally launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2009, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Nationally, thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers will be on the water during the last weekend of June to provide high visibility to boating under the influence or BUI enforcement efforts during peak boating season.

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