ODNR to Increase Patrols to Stop Boating Under the Influence

COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will be participating in Operation Dry Water, a nationally coordinated effort to reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. From June 24-26, ODNR officers will increase patrols, breathalyzer tests, checkpoints and boater education as part of the national initiative.

“Consuming alcohol or using drugs on a boat can have serious and potentially deadly consequences,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “Through this campaign, we hope to draw more awareness to the importance of staying sober and safe while operating watercraft. Operators under the influence are not only a danger to themselves, they are a danger to their passengers and other boaters.”

According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics report, the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents nationwide is alcohol use. When the primary cause of a fatal boating accident was known, alcohol use was the leading factor in 17 percent of deaths in the nation during 2015. Additionally, when operating a vessel, alcohol use was the primary contributing factor in 260 accidents, 91 deaths and 228 injuries in 2015.

During last year’s three-day Operation Dry Water, ODNR Division of Watercraft officers contacted 563 boaters on 188 vessels and made five arrests for boating under the influence (BUI).

In Ohio, boaters whose blood alcohol content level exceeds the state limit of .08 can expect to be arrested for BUI and may face other serious penalties, including fines, jail and loss of privileges to register and operate boats.

Operation Dry Water is a nationwide campaign, launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administration (NASBLA) in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, ODNR and local marine patrol officers. For more information on Operation Dry Water, visit operationdrywater.org.

ODNR is responsible for boating safety, education and law enforcement on all waters of the state. This statewide area includes the nearshore area along 451 miles of the Ohio River, approximately one-third the entire surface area of Lake Erie, more than 605 inland lakes and more than 60,000 miles of inland streams, rivers and other waterways.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.