Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents will increase patrols for boaters driving a boat while intoxicated this weekend during Operation Dry Water.
According to a press release, agents will be out in force patrolling state waterways June 27-29 for boat operators whose blood-alcohol content exceeds the state limit of .08 percent.
"Alcohol is always one of the largest contributing factors for boating fatalities in Louisiana and nationwide," said Capt. Rachel Zechenelly, LDWF’s state boating law administrator. "We want people to have fun on the water, but we also want them to have a sober operator of the vessel for the safety of those in the vessel and everybody else on the water.”
Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the side-effects of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medication.
Louisiana had 15 boating fatalities in 2013, with alcohol playing a role in three fatalities. Nationwide, statistics from 2012 reveal that 17 percent of all boat incident fatalities listed alcohol as a contributing factor.
LDWF agents issued three DWI citations to boat operators during the 2013 Operation Dry Water weekend, and 15 DWI citations over the same weekend the previous two years combined.
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.
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 with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.
First offense DWI carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Second offense DWI brings a $750 to $1,000 fine and between 30 days and six months in jail. Third offense DWI carries a $5,000 fine and between one and five years in jail, the release states.