Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division (LDWF/LED) agents will take part in Operation Dry Water from June 24-26 with increased patrols for boaters operating or driving a boat while intoxicated (DWI) enforcement and boating safety.
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.
“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.” said LDWF Lt. Col. Sammy Martin, the state’s boating law administrator. “We want people to have fun on the water, but we also want them to come home safely.”
Louisiana had 22 boating fatalities in 2014 with alcohol playing a role in four fatalities or 17 percent. Nationwide, statistics from 2015 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 2015 Operation Dry Water weekend and five DWI citations during the same weekend in 2014.
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.
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.
Operation Dry Water was started in 2009 and is a joint program involving the LDWF/LED, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the U.S. Coast Guard. More information is available at www.operationdrywater.org.