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Game wardens with the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) will be targeting operating under the influence violators this weekend in numerous waters across Nevada as part of a nationally coordinated enforcement effort dubbed “Operation Dry Water”.
In an attempt to reduce the number of boaters operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol “Operation Dry Water” will include increased patrols, investigations, information and education, and possible arrests targeting drunken boaters at Lake Lahontan, Lake Mead, Lake Mohave and South Fork Reservoir by Nevada game wardens throughout the weekend. As part of the program, game wardens will also be handing out boating safety and education information and stepped up inspections for required boating safety equipment.
“We want people to be have a great time boating,” said David Pfiffner, Nevada’s Boating Law Administrator. “But drunken boating has become a serious problem in many parts of our state in fatal accidents.” According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics in 2008, the most recently provided stats, 17 percent of deaths from recreational boating accidents resulted from boaters impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion – “stressors” common to the boating environment – intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs, and some prescription medications. United States Coast Guard statistics from 2008, the latest available, reveal that 17 percent of all boat accident fatalities were a direct result of alcohol or drug use.
Many boaters don’t realize that operating under the influence carries the same penalties as driving drunk in a car, including, steep fines and jail time.
Operation Dry Water, launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in partnership with the United States Coast Guard, has been a highly successful effort to draw public attention to the hazards of BUI. Operation Dry Water is a national weekend of boating under the influence (BUI) detection and enforcement aimed at reducing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities and fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water. It is held during the summer boating season and coordinated by NASBLA, in partnership with the states, the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies. Curbing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities is key to achieving a safer and more enjoyable environment for recreational boating.
Last summer, agencies and organizations from 46 states and 5 territories participated in the first ever Operation Dry Water weekend. Over that three-day weekend, 2,442 marine law enforcement officers made contact with 17,454 recreational vessels and issued 5,320 boating safety warnings, 283 BUI citations and 1,127 citations for other violations. This year, all 50 states are expected to participate, searching for boat operators whose alcohol or drug impairment makes them a danger to other boaters.
“There will be arrests this weekend, and some boaters will face the consequences of boating under the influence,” said Pfiffner. “But we’d much rather arrest someone than to have to tell their friends and family they’re never coming back.”
Operation Dry Water is a joint program of NDOW, NASBLA and the U.S. Coast Guard. More information is available at www.operationdrywater.org.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. For more information, visit www.ndow.org.
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