During the 4th of July weekend, many people in the Northland will be looking to celebrate by getting their boat out on the water as much as possible, especially with the weather looking good for most of the weekend.
While everyone should get out and have fun, keep in mind that lakes will be busier than ever and boating safety is crucial. A key to being safe on the water is to avoid the combination of alcohol and driving a boat.
It's a fact that alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, which is why the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is letting everyone know that there will be increased BWI (Boating While Intoxicated) enforcement on waterways throughout the holiday weekend.
This is part of Operation Dry Water, a year-round boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign. The goal of Operation Dry Water is to reduce the number of BWI-related boating accidents and fatalities. The DNR notes that Minnesota’s lakes and rivers have been particularly busy this summer with people getting outside to take advantage of the state's water-based recreational opportunities.
Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense that can lead to your voyage being terminated, your boat getting impounded, and the arrest of the boat operator. Penalties vary by state but can include fines, jail, and loss of boating or even driving privileges.
With that in mind, Operation Dry Water organizers want all boaters to keep the following in mind:
- The federal BAC legal limit for operating a vessel under the influence is .08
- Alcohol use can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time
- Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion —“stressors” common to the boating environment— intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications
- Alcohol use can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.
- Alcohol is dangerous for passengers too. Intoxication can cause slips, falls overboard, and other dangerous accidents.
- If you boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol you are endangering your life and the lives of others.
The point is everyone should get outside and enjoy Northland waterways as much as possible, but be smart about it. Don't boat under the influence and wear your life jacket in case an accident occurs.