COLUMBUS – Alcohol use while boating is a leading factor in boater deaths nationwide, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. Alcohol also increases fatigue. Alcohol use is dangerous for passengers as well. Intoxicated passengers can easily slip, fall overboard or suffer other life-threatening accidents.
During last weekend’s Operation Dry Water nationwide crackdown to remove impaired boaters from public waterways, the ODNR Division of Watercraft officers contacted 2,092 boaters on 671 vessels for reasonable suspicion that the vessel or its operator was in violation of watercraft or local law.
The officers and their law enforcement partners issued three boating under the influence (BUI) violations. In Ohio, individuals driving a boat with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the state limit of .08 will be arrested for BUI and face other serious penalties, including fines, jail and loss of privileges to register and to operate boats.
Watercraft officers also issued 47 citations and 641 boating safety warnings. There was one boatingrelated fatality in Ohio during the 2014 Operation Dry Water weekend.
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 boaters to boat smart, boat sober and make a commitment to staying safe on the water. Learn more at operationdrywater.org.
Fifteen boaters have died in boating accidents so far this year in Ohio. Twelve of these boaters were not wearing life jackets. Life jackets save lives. ODNR reminds boaters to wear a life jacket, instead of just having it close by. Once a boater is already in the water, it can be very difficult to locate and put on a life jacket properly.
The ODNR Division of Watercraft is responsible for boating safety, education and law enforcement on all waters of the state. This statewide area includes the near-shore area along 451 miles of the Ohio River, approximately half the entire surface area of Lake Erie, more than 605 inland lakes and more than 60,000 miles of inland streams, rivers and other waterways. For more information on boating in Ohio and safe boating tips, visit watercraft.ohiodnr. gov.