Take the pledge not to drink and boat - WNEM TV 5

Take the pledge not to drink and boat

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LANSING, MI (WNEM) -

Conservation officers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourage boaters to take a pledge to never boat under the influence of alcohol. Boating while under the influence is against the law and a major contributing factor in recreational boater deaths in the United States, accounting for more than 20 percent of deaths.

The DNR, through its support of Operation Dry Water, is hoping to help change that statistic and encourages boaters to take the pledge to never boat under the influence at operationdrywater.org.

The Operation Dry Water heightened enforcement weekend, as part of this safety effort, takes place June 24-26.

“The three days of heightened enforcement take place just prior to the July Fourth holiday weekend, which is unfortunately known for drinking and boating, leading to deadly accidents,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, state boating law administrator and supervisor of the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s recreational safety, education and enforcement section. “Our goal is to save lives.”

The heightened enforcement time period is part of a national effort, with law enforcement officers across the nation participating. Operation Dry Water’s mission is to raise awareness among recreational boaters of the dangers of boating while under the influence and change the cultural acceptance of drinking and boating. Operation Dry Water is part of a national, year-round awareness and enforcement campaign.

“It’s not only operators who need to forgo drinking while boating,” said Sgt. Al Bavarskas, marine specialist with the DNR Law Enforcement Division's recreational safety, education and enforcement section. “Alcohol consumption by passengers while boating is also dangerous. Intoxication can cause slips, falls over board and other dangerous accidents.”

Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion, all common to the boating environment, intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications. In addition, fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion are increased when under the influence.

Under Michigan law, operating a motorboat while under the influence of alcohol – meaning the person has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams or more – or under the influence of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $500, community service and/or imprisonment for up to 93 days, in addition to loss of boat operating privileges for at least one year. If a person is injured or killed as a result of a driver operating while under the influence, the driver will be charged with a felony, punishable by fines up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison.

Operation Dry Water was launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the United States Coast Guard. The Michigan DNR is a participating agency. View a full list of participating agencies in Michigan and the nation.

To learn more about boating rules and regulations in Michigan to help ensure a safe and enjoyable boating season, visit www.michigan.gov/boating and click on Rules and Regulations.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more about Michigan conservation officers at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

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