DNR Cracking Down on Impaired Boaters for Operation Dry Water

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: July 06, 2019 10:37 PM

With the fourth of July holiday weekend in full swing, there’s more boats and people out on the lakes. The Minnesota DNR and authorities are making sure everyone is boating responsibly with Operation Dry Water.

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The annual three day campaign is about having extra enforcement out in the water making sure there aren't impaired boaters on the lakes. It’s a multi-agency effort between the sheriff’s department, the Coast Guard, and the DNR.

"Minnesota’s driving while intoxicated laws are among the strongest in the nation. Operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration above .08 is against the law,” Lt. Adam Block, the DNR boating law administrator, said.

The fourth of July weekend is a fun time to be out on the lake with friends and family, but with that comes a big responsibility.

"The biggest thing after being a fishing guide for 15 years and watching a lot of bad things happen, typically when people mix the boating and drinking, that's not a good thing, Jay Dailey, a Duluth resident, said.

That’s why on the busiest recreating weekend of the year, authorities are making sure people are boating responsibly. The Minnesota DNR was on Island Lake Saturday afternoon checking up on that.

"I can speak for the Duluth area that over the past several years it's been very good. More people are being aware of it, that they need to be safe when they're boating,” Kipp Duncan, a Minnesota DNR conservation officer, said.

"Everybody today looks like they're being safe. We've been to other lakes and they're not. We have a small boat and we try to go where we feel safe,” Tracy Koop, a Cloquet resident, said.

Authorities say drunk boating is drunk driving and in a split second, a tragedy can unfold and change someone's life forever.

"It's not worth the risk. You're putting your own life in danger and you're putting your loved ones in danger,” Dailey said.

"If you’re operating a boat under the influence you’ll be arrested and taken to jail. It’s certainly not something we want to do, but we'd rather arrest someone than to have to tell their family or the family of an innocent victim that they're never coming home,” Block said.

According to the Minnesota DNR, In the past two years, half of the fatal boating incidents in Minnesota involved alcohol, which is higher than the five-year average.

Last year, 494 impaired boat operators nationwide were cited for boating while intoxicated.

"If you get a boating while intoxicated citation it's going to go against your driving record and that can affect your driving privileges on the road,” Duncan said.

That's why the DNR and law enforcement reminds folks to be responsible and look out for each other. They encourage boaters to leave alcohol on the shore and boat sober.

"If I were to give advice I would say stay away from alcohol if you're a boat operator,” Duncan said.

For more information on Operation Dry Water, click here.


Alejandra Palacios

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