Boaters on Iowa’s lakes and rivers will notice more law enforcement officers patrolling the waterways this weekend. Susan Stocker, boating law administrator with the Iowa D.N.R., says the Operation Dry Water campaign is designed to draw attention to the dangers of mixing alcohol with boating.
The effort involves D.N.R. conservation officers, sheriff’s deputies, local police officers and the Iowa State Patrol. Iowa will have a new lower blood alcohol limit (BAC) for boaters beginning July 1. The current level of .10 BAC will become .08 BAC, which is the same level for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Stocker says too many boating fatalities in Iowa can be blamed on drunk operators.
“Over 50% of our fatalities involve alcohol,” Stocker said. Last year, 35 people were arrested for boating while intoxicated (BWI) in Iowa. Stocker believes drunken boating is even more dangerous than driving a car while intoxicated.
“When you’re operating a boat while intoxicated, you also have to compete with the effects of the wind, the glare from the sun and the water movement – which enhances the effects of alcohol on an operator,” Stocker said.
The top four bodies of water for BWI arrests in 2010 were the Okoboji lakes chain, the Missouri River, Saylorville Lake and the Mississippi River.