COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is reminding everyone that operating a boat under the influence is not only illegal, it is extremely dangerous. Alcohol is involved in about one in every four fatal boating-related accidents in Ohio.
“Don’t risk the lives of your passengers, other boaters, and yourself by boating under the influence—it’s just not worth it,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “Boating sober and wearing a life jacket are two sure ways for everyone to have a safe and fun day on the water.”
This weekend, ODNR’s law enforcement officers will heighten their focus on educating boaters on sober boating and removing impaired boaters from Ohio’s waterways during the Operation Dry Water campaign.
It is illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher in Ohio. Persons found to be boating under the influence can expect to incur severe penalties such as being arrested and having the boat impounded.
Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgement, balance, vision and reaction time. Alcohol increases fatigue. Common stressors, such as sun, wind, vibration and motion, can intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications. Alcohol use is dangerous for passengers as well. Intoxicated passengers can easily slip, fall overboard or suffer other life-threatening injuries.
Coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, Operation Dry Water’s national crackdown on impaired boaters has reduced boating fatalities due to alcohol impairment by 17 percent since 2009.
The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft administers Ohio’s boating programs. Funding to support local marine patrol units comes from the state’s Waterways Safety Fund, which is comprised of the state motor fuel tax, watercraft registration and titling fees, as well as funds provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft provides exceptional outdoor recreation and boating opportunities by balancing outstanding customer service, education and conservation of Ohio’s 75 state parks and waterways.