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Operation Dry Water: Allegan County Sheriff steps up patrol this 4th of July weekend

Operation Dry Water is held every year near the Fourth of July holiday, where many boaters take to the water and drinking is prevalent.

SAUGATUCK, Mich. — The Fourth of July is known for fireworks, barbecuing and boating. 

This weekend you can expect to see more law enforcement on the water looking out for people drinking and boating.

Operation Dry Water is held every year near the Fourth of July holiday, where many boaters take to the water and drinking is prevalent.

The Allegan County Sheriff's office has been participating in this national campaign since 2014. They're focus is all of the waterways in the county.

"We've had several incidents where intoxicated boaters ran into the peer heads or end of the peer," said Lt. Brett Ensfield, a spokesperson with the Allegan County Sheriff's Office. "We've had individuals jump off a boat who were extremely intoxicated thinking they're going to go for a nice swim in Lake Michigan and never returned."

The sheriff's office says it's not about making arrests or citations, rather it's about educating the public. 

"One of the number one violations we find is the safety aspect."

Over the three day operation in 2020, they made one arrest for boating under the influence. 

Last year there were no arrests, however they contacted 264 boats, issued one citation and 56 warnings for various violations. 

The sheriff's office also teamed up with a local realtors association for a second year in a row to hand out 45 life jackets to people who don't have one.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 86% of people who drowned in a recreational boating accident were not wearing a life jacket.

"Have your kids wear life jackets. Know where all your safety devices are on the boats. Don't get on the boat with somebody consuming alcohol if they're the operator of the boat and just be safe this weekend."

Operation Dry Water is a coordinated effort by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as local, state, and federal agencies. 

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