LDWF agents participating in Operation Dry Water this weekend

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents will take part in Operation Dry Water from July 4 to July 6.

During the Operation Dry Water weekend, LDWF agents will be out in force patrolling state waterways for impaired boat operators.

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 medications.

Nationwide, alcohol is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating incidents causing 17 percent of all deaths on the water. Last year, Louisiana reported seven boating fatalities with alcohol playing a role in two of them or 29 percent. To date this year, Louisiana has had five boating fatalities with alcohol being suspected in two of them or 40 percent.

Last year during Operation Dry Water Weekend, LDWF Agents arrested 12 boaters for DWI on the water.

“We want family and friends to enjoy Louisiana’s waterways this Fourth of July weekend, but we want them to do it in safe manner so that everyone comes home to their loved ones at the end of the day,” said Col. Stephen Clark, head of the LDWF Enforcement Division. “While we are always on the lookout for impaired operators of vessels, this weekend we will make it a priority.”

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 boat operating privileges. 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.

LDWF is also encouraging the use of personal flotation devices while on the water this holiday weekend and as a reminder anyone born after Jan. 1, 1984 is required to take a safe boating education course. To take the safe boating education course, please visit: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/boater-education.

Operation Dry Water was started in 2009 and is a joint program involving the LDWF, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the U.S. Coast Guard. More information is available at www.operationdrywater.org.