Joint Task Force in Pennsylvania Reduced BUI and DUI
Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is a chronic problem on the nation's waterways. Enforcement is difficult and many people who drink and operate a boat don't even know BUI laws exist. Drinking and water-related activities are often perceived as a natural combination, encouraged by marketing efforts of alcoholic beverage manufacturers, encouraging the perception that BUI, unlike driving under the influence (DUI), is socially acceptable. People who drink and boat, thinking they're not drunk, sometimes get in their cars after boating and commit DUI. Perhaps most importantly, people who drink and boat do so with the notion that they won't get caught.
But according to a 2003 study in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, a task force set up in 2001 in Pennsylvania has made an impact in enforcing BUI. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, a state agency funded only by revenue from fishing licenses and boat registrations, teamed up with a number of other departments, associations, and enforcement agencies to counteract the effects of BUI on the state’s waterways and DUI on roads near those waterways.
The task force's early enforcement efforts were limited by various factors, namely the weather. Some joint patrols had to be rescheduled due to bad weather. Five of the seven joint patrols were executed on days that were not heavy boating days, again due to the weather. But in the end, the task force proved effective, in part because of the media exposure. While statistical measurement of deterrence is realistically impossible, task force officials believe that quick word-of-mouth about the stepped-up enforcement induced vacationers not to mix boating and drinking, and therefore, driving and drinking on roads near waterways. Furthermore, all the participating departments and agencies got a better understanding of how each one operates and what challenges each faces in enforcement and BUI / DUI deterrence.
The study concluded that law enforcement agencies nationwide should attempt similar joint task force enforcement, as BUI and DUI are closely related. It also recommended that agencies lobby Congress to revise the Highway Safety Act so as to better facilitate continued joint efforts on highways and waterways.