ODNR promotes sober boating

COLUMBUS – Alcohol and boating is a dangerous combination on the water, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Alcohol use while boating is the leading factor in boater deaths nationwide.

Recently during Operation Dry Water, which is a nationwide crackdown initiative aimed at removing impaired boaters from public waterways, the department’s natural resources officers and other partnering agencies contacted 3,500 boaters on 1,261 vessels for various violations of Ohio watercraft and local laws.

The officers and their law enforcement partners issued eight 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.

ODNR officers also issued 102 citations and 895 boating safety warnings. There were three boating-related fatalities in Ohio during the 2018 Operation Dry Water weekend.

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.

While state natural resources 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.

The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft administers Ohio’s boating and scenic rivers 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, protection and conservation of Ohio’s state parks and waterways.