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Natural Resources Police Conducting ‘Operation Dry Water’ to Combat Boating Under the Influence

Boaters should expect increased patrols and vessel checks

Photo of four boats in the water

Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo.

This holiday weekend, Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) anticipates more boaters on the water, and subsequently an increase in boating incidents and fatalities.

Because of the high volume of activity during the July 4 holiday, it’s statistically one of the most dangerous times on Maryland’s waterways. Boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs remains a major issue not just in Maryland, but nationwide. In response, in partnership with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, NRP will once again participate in the national Operation Dry Water, which includes heightened awareness and enforcement from July 4-6.

“The Fourth of July weekend is the busiest boating holiday of the year,” said Natural Resources Police Col. Orlando Lilly. “NRP’s presence on the water will be significant, with saturation patrols spanning nearly every county in the state. It’s our goal to ensure the safety of everyone on the water, and our involvement in Operation Dry Water gives us opportunities to educate boaters on the dangers of drinking and operating, as well as removing unsafe and impaired operators from our waterways when necessary.”

Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating incidents, while more than 90 percent of Maryland’s fatal boating accident victims in the past five years were not wearing a life jacket.

During this period of heightened awareness and enforcement, NRP will prioritize educating boaters about safe practices, including the importance of sober boating. Boaters should expect increased patrols and vessel checks to prioritize the safety of those on the water.

NRP reminds boaters that the best way to enjoy a safe holiday weekend on the water is to remain sober – always have a “sober skipper” on board – and wear a life jacket at all times. 

In Maryland, an individual convicted of operating a vessel on the waters of Maryland while under the influence of alcohol, or any narcotic, drug, or barbiturate, can face up to one year of imprisonment and revocation of their boating license.

More information about boating safety and regulations in Maryland along with Maryland boating accident statistics can be found by visiting