Susan Stocker is the boating law administrator and education coordinator for the Iowa DNR.
“In 2012, we had 95 boating while intoxicated arrests in Iowa and that’s an increase over previous years,” Stocker says.
The 95 arrests last year compared to 55 in 2011 and 40 arrests in 2010. This weekend, DNR law enforcement officers are taking part in a national campaign called “Operation Dry Water.”
Stocker says the officers will increase patrols, conduct check points, and administer breath tests. She believes too many boat operators don’t recognize how dangerous drinking and boating can be.
“The effects of the wind, the water, the sun, and the glare also enhance the effects of alcohol. So, someone who is having one alcoholic beverage on a boat will feel the effects of two or three times the alcoholic beverage,” Stocker says. “That’s what we believe the public isn’t aware of.”
Operators may not think they are under the influence, but their judgment, reaction time, balance and vision indicate that they are, Stocker added. “Having a sober driver is the best course of action,” Stocker said.
During the Operation Dry Water campaign last year, officers in Iowa contacted nearly 550 vessels, resulting in 136 citations or warnings. The 2012 effort was conducted on the Mississippi River Pool 15, the Coralville Reservoir, Saylorville Reservoir, North Twin Lake, Storm Lake and the Missouri River.
Of the 95 BWI arrests in Iowa last year, 32 were made on the Mississippi River. There were 16 BWI arrests on Saylorville Lake, 15 on the Iowa Great Lakes, 14 on the Coralville Reservoir, and six arrests on Clear Lake.