Wardens plan to crack down on drinking and boating

If you are on Wisconsin waters this weekend, you will see Wisconsin’s conservation wardens and local boat patrols looking for impaired boat operators whose blood alcohol level is over the state limit of 0.08 percent. This weekend event is part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign slated for June 22 through 24.

“We want to enhance everyone’s safety by removing intoxicated boat operators from the water. We hope to educate as many boaters as possible about the hazards of operating while intoxicated,” Roy Zellmer, Department of Natural Resources boating law administrator, said.

A boat operator or passenger with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit runs a significantly increased risk of being involved in a boating accident. When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more likely and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or simply fall overboard.

Operating while intoxicated is a primary contributing factor in nearly one in five boating fatalities nationwide, and Wisconsin’s conservation wardens and boat patrols are committed to enforcing laws against this highrisk behavior to protect everyone on the water. Boaters found operating a recreational vessel with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher will find their voyage terminated and they will be removed from the water for everyone’s safety.

Last year, Wisconsin’s conservation warden service and local water patrols dedicated 1,684 hours and contacted 1,870 boaters during Operation Dry Water. There were 14 arrests of boating under the influence and 162 other boating citations issued along with 599 boating-related warnings.

Operation Dry Water, a multiagency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide the last weekend in June to give operating while intoxicated enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season.

“Boaters who choose to operate while intoxicate will face the consequences of that decision,” Zellmer said. “We want recreational boaters to enjoy themselves, but there will be zero tolerance for boating under the influence.”

Operation Dry Water is a joint program of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the U.S. Coast Guard.


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