COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Watercraft is among many state and local marine patrol agencies participating in a nationwide crackdown on alcohol-impaired boating known as Operation Dry Water from June 22-24. This is the fourth year of the special marine enforcement effort initiated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
Alcohol is involved in approximately one of every three boating-related accidents on Ohio waterways. 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.
In 2011, Division of Watercraft officers contacted 1,907 boaters and made eight arrests for boating while intoxicated during the weekend-long effort. A total of 112 other alcohol and boating-related violations were issued in addition to 503 boating safety warnings. No boating-related fatalities were recorded in Ohio during Operation Dry Water weekend last year. Nationally, marine patrol officers made contacts with 36,277 recreational boaters and issued a total of 2,522 citations. There were 283 arrests made for boating while intoxicated and 5,320 safety warnings were issued.
Drunk boaters are not the only focus of the crackdown. Drug-impaired boating and drug-related arrests are more prevalent today on the nation’s waterways, which increases the risk to boating safety for all boaters. Operation Dry Water also seeks to remove boat operators who may be under the influence of drugs.