June 17, 2014
MADISON -- Get smart, be skilled and stay sober enjoying Wisconsin's waters.
That's the state theme for June 27 - 29 when Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens will join local boat patrols for Operation Dry Water, the annual national boating safety campaign dedicated to increasing public awareness about sober boat operation by removing impaired drivers.
Roy Zellmer, DNR boating safety administrator and conservation warden, says wardens and local boat patrols will be out in force that weekend talking about on-water safety as well as watching for operators whose actions are impaired by alcohol and other drugs, and those whose blood alcohol level is higher than the state limit of 0.08 percent as part of the annual June national safety campaign.
"There are 84,000 river miles and 15,000 lakes Wisconsin for all to enjoy," Zellmer said. "The wardens and the local boat patrols are working as a team to help all have fun, without having to worry about the careless and selfish actions of a very few."
Operation Dry Water, a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide the last weekend in June to give operating while intoxicated enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season.
Operation Dry Water focuses on spreading awareness of the danger of boating under the influence.
Wisconsin closed 2013 with 614,399 registered boats. DNR records show there were 87 boating accidents in 2013 that caused 66 injuries and 13 fatalities. Of those who died, nearly all drowned and were not wearing personal flotation devices.
"Operator inexperience and lack of boating safety education also continue to be factors in boating accidents," Zellmer said.
In Wisconsin boaters whose blood alcohol content (BAC) level exceeds the state limit of .08 can expect to be arrested for boating under the influence (BUI). Penalties for BUI include fines, jail, alcohol/drug assessment and completion of a boating safety course. Operation Dry Water patrols will include increased patrols as well as boater education and outreach.
For more information on Operation Dry Water, please visit operationdrywater.org (exit DNR).
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Roy Zellmer 608-212-5385 or Joanne Haas, 608-209-8147