(UNDATED) - Indiana Conservation Officers will join a national campaign in late June aimed at creating heightened public awareness of the dangers of boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Operation Dry Water (ODW) is scheduled for June 28-30, just before the Fourth of July.
ODW (www.OperationDryWater.org) is a nationwide education and enforcement initiative developed by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Since ODW launched in 2009, the percentage of boating fatalities in the United States in which alcohol is listed as a contributing factor has decreased from 19 percent to 17 percent. Despite the decrease, boating while intoxicated (BWI) accounts for a disproportionate number of on-the-water deaths. In 2011, alcohol was a contributing factor in just 8 percent of boating accidents overall but figured in 17 percent of boating fatalities.
In Indiana, the blood-alcohol limit for boat operators is the same as for vehicle drivers - 0.08. However, studies show that boat operators become impaired by alcohol sooner than people on land because of the motion of the boat, the glare and heat of the sun, and dehydration from sweating.
Boat operators convicted of boating while intoxicated can lose their boat operating and vehicle driving privileges, and face jail time and fees.
According to Indiana Conservation Officers, the safest plan is to have a designated boat operator who is not drinking alcohol.
Citizens often report intoxicated boaters to authorities, which demonstrates an increased public awareness that law-abiding boaters are concerned about safety.
"Keeping our lakes, rivers and reservoirs safe takes an effort from all of us, and we appreciate the efforts of our safe boaters," said Lt. Kenton Turner, boating law administrator for the DNR Division of Law Enforcement.
A video detailing a joint effort of Indiana Conservation Officers and Indiana State Police to address boating and driving while intoxicated can be found at youtube.com/idnrvideos.
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