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MADISON —  As part of the Operation Dry Water’s heightened awareness and enforcement three-day weekend, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be staffing Wisconsin’s waterways with more DNR conservation wardens in addition to local area law enforcement from July 1-3 .

Operation Dry Water

This adjustment is part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign.

Since 2009, this national year-round campaign aims to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence. They work to reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related incidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water.

According to the DNR, wardens and other participating law enforcement agencies will be educating boaters about safe boating practices across the country, which includes sober boating.

Alcohol’s impact while boating

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division reports that alcohol use is a leading factor in recreational boating fatalities. In addition, nearly 80% of fatal boating incidents involve drowning.

Across the nation, law enforcement officers across the nation have taken law enforcement action against 4,700 impaired operators. By doing so they have prevented dangerous incidents with potentially devastating consequences.

The holiday weekend approaching brings to light the serious dangers of boating while intoxicated. The DNR encourages people to have designated operators if alcohol will be involved in their day of boating.

Operation Dry Water: Law Enforcement to increase on Wisconsin's waterways July 1-3
Operation Dry Water works year-round to bring awareness of boating under the influence. The heightened awareness and enforcement three-day weekend takes place over the upcoming holiday weekend, July 1-3, 2023. – Credit: Operation Dry Water

Operating a boat is no different than driving a car, per the DNR release. Operating a vessel while impaired is illegal on all bodies of water and can lead to serious legal consequences, injuries and even death.

In Wisconsin, it is illegal to operate a vessel with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.

“Boating while impaired continues to be a problem on our waterways,” said Lt. Darren Kuhn, DNR Boating Law Administrator. “As law enforcement, it is our duty to ensure that recreational boaters, paddlers and anyone enjoying our waterways have a safe place to spend their time. The tragedies that result from these boating under the influence incidents are 100% preventable.”

Boaters can learn more about boating under the influence by visiting Operation Dry Water is coordinated nationally by the National Association of State Boating Law.