The DNR and other agencies around the state are stepping up patrols for impaired boaters this weekend — June 28-30. The enforcement is part of Operation Dry Water, a national weekend of boating while intoxicated (BWI) education and enforcement directed toward reducing alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities.
Impaired boating is one of the leading factors for boating accidents and injuries in Minnesota and across the nation. In 2012, alcohol was a contributing factor in 33 percent of the deadly boating accidents in the state.
“We have zero tolerance for anyone found operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs on our waters,” said Capt. Greg Salo, DNR Enforcement, Central Region manager. “No one should ever get hurt or even die because a boat operator decided to drink alcohol.”
Operating a boat with a blood alcohol level (BAC) .08 or higher is against the law.
Last year, 158 people were arrested for BWI in Minnesota. Most BWI arrests occurred in Hennepin County – with 91, followed by Stearns, Scott and Washington counties with eight each.
It’s commonly known that alcohol and drugs impair a boater’s judgment, Salo said, but adding the sun, noise and waves could be a potentially deadly mix on the water.
“There are severe consequences for boating while intoxicated," he said. "But we'd rather arrest someone than to have to tell their friends and family that they're never coming home."
Boaters caught operating under the influence will find their day on the water come to an end and their boat will be impounded. Additional penalties can include arrest, fines and loss of boating privileges.
Operation Dry Water is sponsored by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard.