Colonel Sandra K. Karsten, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, announces the Patrol’s participation in Operation Dry Water. Operation Dry Water is in its 10th year and Missouri has participated since the program’s inception. This national campaign includes marine law enforcement officers from all 50 states and six U.S. territories. Officers will coordinate special patrols to keep our waterways safe from boaters operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This year, June 29-July 1, 2018 has been designated as Operation Dry Water weekend.
“As a partner in this national campaign, troopers will focus their efforts on detecting and apprehending impaired boat operators,” said Col. Karsten. “Consuming alcohol and then operating a vessel puts lives at risk. The Missouri State Highway Patrol joins its Operation Dry Water partners in stressing the importance of being sober when in and around water. Please don’t operate a vessel if you’ve consumed alcohol.”
Last year, 628 local, state, and federal agencies participated in a weekend long event of heightened BWI enforcement known as Operation Dry Water. Officers removed 518 intoxicated boat operators from the water. In addition, law enforcement officers made contact with 243,853 boaters concerning BWI or boating safety enforcement and awareness.
In 2017, troopers arrested a total of 15 people statewide for boating while intoxicated, contacted 856 vessels and 2,745 boaters, and issued 146 boating violation summonses and 1,238 warnings on Missouri waterways. Marine operations troopers also issued 86 summonses for non-boating violations during the 2017 Operation Dry Water weekend. Special enforcement operations will continue throughout the summer months. Boaters are reminded that designating a sober operator is always the safest bet if alcohol is going to be included in their boating experience.
Operation Dry Water weekend takes place near July Fourth, a holiday known for an increase in alcohol related boating crashes. Boating under the influence continues to be a leading factor in crashes and deaths on our nation’s waterways according to recently released U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics. Missouri boat operators are reminded that a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater will lead to an arrest for boating while intoxicated. Intoxicated boat operators endanger themselves, their passengers, and other boaters utilizing our many waterways.
Boating under the influence applies to drugs as well as alcohol. Even some prescription medications can make operating a recreational vessel unsafe. Alcohol use can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. Alcohol use is dangerous for passengers too. Intoxicated passengers can easily slip, fall overboard or suffer other life-threatening accidents.
“Troopers will be on the water enforcing Missouri’s laws and protecting those enjoying our lakes and rivers,” said Colonel Karsten. “Missouri is blessed with a variety of water-related recreation opportunities. Floating, swimming, and boating activities should be fun, safe experiences. Please choose to be a sober boater and to always wear a life jacket when you’re on or near the water.”