The Brillion News
MADISON - Boaters and paddlers enjoying Wisconsin's waters during the Fourth of July weekend will see more state conservation wardens and local boat patrols spreading education and enforcing the state's safe boating laws as part of the annual national Operation Dry Water.
The state Department of Natural Resources' Bureau of Law Enforcement will join local law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard to help keep Wisconsin's water safe this holiday weekend.
Launched in 2009, Operation Dry Water is an awareness and enforcement campaign to educate boaters about the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. Held annually during the popular Fourth of July holiday, the campaign is not limited to these few days.
Alcohol use and death
"Alcohol use continues to be a leading known contributing factor in recreational boater deaths and a leading contributor in boating accidents," said Capt. April Dombrowski, of the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement. "This also means avoiding alcohol or other drug use prior to and while boating."
A boat operator or passenger with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit runs a significantly increased risk of being involved in a boating accident. When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more likely and deadlier for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or fall overboard.
Law enforcement officers will remove impaired operators from the water. It is illegal to operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In 2019, Wisconsin DNR officers contacted 2,410 vessels, 6,801 boaters, issued 202 boating citations and removed 25 impaired boaters from the water. For the 2019 calendar year, 254 citations were issued for alcohol violations statewide. In 2019, there were 82 reportable boat incidents, 50 people injured and nine fatalities.
Boaters can learn more about boating under the influence by visiting operationdrywater.org. Operation Dry Water is coordinated nationally by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard.