Don’t plan on drinking alcohol and driving your boat this weekend.
Enforcement agents with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will be taking part in Operation Dry Water starting Friday and ending Sunday, patrolling the state’s waterways looking for impaired boat operators.
“Alcohol use and operating a vessel don’t mix. We want people to treat a boat the same way they would a vehicle when it comes to having a sober operator,” LDWF Lt. Col. Sammy Martin, the state’s boating law administrator, said in a press release. “We want people to have fun on the water, but we also want them to come home safely.”
Louisiana had 24 boating fatalities in 2016, with alcohol playing a role in three of them, according to the release. Nationwide, statistics from 2016 reveal that 15 percent of all boat incident fatalities listed alcohol as a contributing factor.
Impaired boaters caught this weekend can expect penalties to be severe: In Louisiana, a DWI on the water carries the same penalties and fines as on the road and includes jail time, fines and loss of driving and boating operator privileges, the release states
Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver's license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case. Also, each offense of operating a vehicle or vessel while intoxicated counts toward the total number of DWI crimes — whether they happened on the water or road.
In Louisiana a DWI can be issued to anyone operating a moving vessel or vehicle while impaired. First-offense DWI carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail, according to the release.