State wildlife agents on the lookout for impaired boaters this weekend

Operation Dry Water continues through Sunday, June 30

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents will be patrolling state waterways this weekend for boat operators who have been drinking and driving.

Operation Dry Water will be in effect through Sunday, June 30, with increased patrols on the lookout for boaters whose blood-alcohol content exceeds the state limit of .08 percent.

“Alcohol is always one of the state’s largest contributing factors for boating fatalities and nationwide,” said Capt. Rachel Zechenelly, LDWF’s 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.”

Louisiana had 25 boating fatalities in 2012, with alcohol a factor in six of those incidents. Alcohol was a contributing factor in about 17 percent of all boating fatalities nationwide in 2012.

Impaired boaters can expect severe penalties in Louisiana: a DWI on the water carries the same penalties as on the road, including jail time, fines and loss of driving and boating operator privileges.

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 30 days to six months in jail. And third-offense DWI carries a $5,000 fine and between one and five years in jail.

Operation Dry Water was started in 2009, and is a joint program involving the LDWF, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the U.S. Coast Guard.

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