Colonel Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, announces the patrol’s participation in Operation Dry Water. Operation Dry Water is in its 11th year and Missouri has participated since the program’s inception. Officers will coordinate special patrols to keep our waterways safe from boaters operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This year, July 5-7, 2019, has been designated as Operation Dry Water weekend.
“Operation Dry Water is an opportunity to remind boaters they need a designated captain on board their vessel,” said Col. Olson. “Intoxicated boat operators endanger those on board their vessel as well as other boaters in the area. Although designated captains are more common today than ever, it’s an important message to repeat.”
Last year, 574 local, state, and federal agencies participated in a weekend long event of heightened BWI enforcement known as Operation Dry Water. Officers removed 494 intoxicated boat operators from the water. In addition, law enforcement officers contacted 201,888 boaters concerning BWI or boating safety enforcement and awareness.
In 2018, troopers arrested a total of seven people statewide for boating while intoxicated, contacted 710 vessels and 2,301 boaters, and issued 84 boating violation summonses and 951 warnings on Missouri waterways. Marine operations troopers also issued 125 summonses for non-boating violations during the 2018 Operation Dry Water weekend. Special enforcement operations will continue throughout the summer months. Boaters are reminded that designating a sober operator is always the safest bet if alcohol is going to be included in their boating experience.
Operation Dry Water weekend takes place near July Fourth, a holiday known for an increase in alcohol-related boating crashes. Boating under the influence continues to be a leading factor in crashes and deaths on our nation’s waterways according to U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics. Alcohol is the leading known contributing factor in fatality boating crashes.
Boating under the influence applies to drugs as well as alcohol. Even some prescription medications can make operating a recreational vessel unsafe. Alcohol use can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time. The dangers of combining alcohol and boating also apply to passengers.
“Enforcing Missouri’s laws on our waterways is a priority for our marine enforcement troopers,” said Colonel Olson. “It’s important that our citizens and out-of-state guests include safety when planning to enjoy one of Missouri’s many waterways. Please designate a sober captain and always wear a life jacket when you’re on or near the water.”