Drunk boaters target of Ohio waterways safety enforcement

June 15, 2010

COLUMBUS – As many as 70 State Watercraft officers, joined by U.S. Coast Guard and local marine patrol officers, will participate in Operation Dry Water June 25-27 to remove boaters impaired by alcohol and drugs from state waterways, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Watercraft.
 
Division of Watercraft officers and marine patrol units will focus much of their attention during this year’s Operation Dry Water on inland waterways that attract the largest numbers of recreational boaters. Shared multi-jurisdictional waterways enforcement efforts also will occur on the Ohio River and Lake Erie.
 
This is the second year of the special nationwide marine enforcement effort initiated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. Last year, during Operation Dry Water, the Division of Watercraft made 12 arrests of intoxicated boaters, two drug-related arrests and issued more than 100 citations for additional alcohol and boating-related violations statewide (www.operationdrywater.org/). Overall, State Watercraft officers made contact with more than 1,500 boaters statewide during that special enforcement effort.
 
U.S. Coast Guard statistics reveal that 17 percent of the nation’s boating-related deaths in 2008 resulted from boaters impaired by alcohol or drugs. Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher is against most federal and state laws, including Ohio.
 
It’s not just drunk boaters who are being targeted. Drug-impaired boating and drug-related arrests are more prevalent today on the nation’s waterways, which increases the risk to boating safety for all boaters. Operation Dry Water (www.operationdrywater.org/) also seeks to remove boat operators who may be under the influence of drugs while boating.
 
While state watercraft officers and local marine patrols are always on the lookout for impaired boat operators, Operation Dry Water is an organized national effort that focuses greater awareness of the need for boat operators to boat smart, boat sober and make a commitment to staying safe on the water.
 
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

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