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Jul 3, 2018 5:35 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Suffolk County Sheriffs And Shinnecock Coast Guard Station Warn Of BWI Enforcement

Jul 3, 2018 5:35 PM

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office is once again this year partnering with U.S. Coast Guard Station Shinnecock in “Operation Dry Water,” a national initiative to crack down on people operating boats while under the influence of alcohol.

First started in 2009, the campaign has cited 3,038 boating while intoxicated, or BWI, offenders in the nation’s waters over the Fourth of July weekend and contacted more than 1.1 million boaters about the initiative, warning them about the dangers and consequences of BWI.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Michael Sharkey said on Tuesday that low-profile vessels from both departments were deployed this past weekend, with more patrols expected to continue throughout the week and into the coming weekend, to enforce the laws against drinking while boating.

The sheriff’s office stressed that alcohol is the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths and a major contributor to boating accidents.

“BWIs are usually difficult because of the environment the incidents happen in,” Chief Sharkey said. “The idea is to get information out there and check vessels for other safety features.”

The patrols this past weekend already led to one arrest and a misdemeanor charge of BWI against Robert Raffaelle, 50, of Fort Lee, New Jersey. According to the sheriff’s office, Mr. Raffaelle was operating a 24-foot speedboat with a 400 horsepower engine on Sunday, July 1, at around 8:15 p.m. in Shinnecock Bay. Mr. Raffaelle was speeding in a no wake zone when he was stopped and seen with an open 25-ounce bottle of vodka and an empty 24-ounce beer can near him in the boat. He then performed poorly on sobriety tests and was arrested at the scene.

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