Operation Dry Water promotes sober boating


COLUMBUS — Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) law enforcement officers and local partner agencies issued two boating under the influence violations and contacted 1,700 boaters about safe and legal watercraft use from July 5-7 as part of Operation Dry Water, a nationwide initiative aimed at removing impaired boaters from public waterways.

“Strong law enforcement presence made the holiday weekend safer for everyone on the water,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “I commend our officers and partner agencies for their efforts to enforce sober boating statewide.”

Alcohol use is involved in about one in every four fatal boating-related accidents in Ohio. Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgement, balance, vision and reaction time, and it can increase 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, too: intoxicated passengers can easily slip, fall overboard or suffer other serious injuries.

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 fines, jail and loss of privileges to register and operate boats.

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. The 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.