Authorities crack down on drinking and boating ahead of Fourth of July

Operation Dry Water kicks off Friday for summer months

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – Authorities are working to crack down on a big issue in South Florida -- drinking and boating.

There are 900,000 registered boats in the state, and while boating is a year-round activity in South Florida, it gets busier out on the water during the summer months.

A nationwide law enforcement campaign called Operation Dry Water began Friday to prevent accidents and deaths from boating under the influence.

"Make sure you have a designated driver. Even though you are allowed to have a drink or two while you're driving a vessel, we recommend to be responsible, just like we recommend if you’re out in a vehicle," Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Lorenzo Veloz said.

Federal, state and local law enforcement officers are working together to deter drinking and boating, with the goal being to reduce the number of boating fatalities.

"Boats do not have crumple zones and do not crumple on impact. It's a straight blunt force, and that's why boating accidents are more severe than automobile accidents," Veloz said.

More officers are expected to be out on the water over the summer months, and will be pulling people over to do routine boating safety checks.

Officers will conduct field sobriety tests for any captains they believe might be under the influence.

"I think it’s great for us and for anybody who gets in the water and for people who come here to Miami to enjoy this beautiful weather," boater Jay Rivera said.

Authorities said most of the boating accidents reported last year occurred during the month of May, but with the Fourth of July coming up, the extra boost in law enforcement effort is beginning now.

Veloz said the worst boating accident he ever had to work in Miami happened July 4, 2014, when four people were killed.