TOPEKA–Kansas Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) game wardens will be on the lookout for boaters under the influence during Operation Dry Water (ODW), June 29 – July 1. ODW is part of a national effort to reduce accidents and fatalities related to boating under the influence (BUI) of drugs and alcohol and educate recreational boaters about the dangers of BUI. While ODW is a year-round national campaign, a heightened awareness and enforcement effort takes place around July 4th, a holiday known for the potentially deadly combination of drinking and boating.
KDWPT game wardens are responsible for patrolling the waters of Kansas and conducting boat accident investigations, boat safety inspections, BUI checks, safety programs, education classes and other boating-related activities. During ODW, officers will be looking for boaters whose blood alcohol content exceeds the state limit of 0.08. The weekend will include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, life jacket checks and boater education. Impaired boaters can expect to be arrested or face other serious penalties. In Kansas, the consequences for BUI include fines, jail and loss of boating privileges. During the 2017 ODW in Kansas, game wardens issued 26 boating citations, 35 boating-related warnings and recorded two BUI offenses.
“We are dedicated to keeping boaters safe on our waters” said Kansas boating law administrator Maj. Dan Hesket. “Boating is a safe and enjoyable pastime when people stay alert and follow the rules. Many factors contribute to the way alcohol affects a person on the water. The combination of sun, wind, glare, dehydration and wave motion causes a person to become intoxicated three times fasterthan on shore.”
BUI is a major problem across the nation. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’sRecreational Boating Statistics 2017, alcohol is a primary contributing factor in recreational boating fatalities. Intoxicated boaters run a significantly increased risk of being involved in a fatal boating accident. In 2017, 29 boat accidents were reported on Kansas waters, two of which resulted in a fatality, 14 resulted in injuries, and 13 involved only property damage. Of the 29 reported boat accidents, 19 people in total were injured and there was an estimated $111,819 in property damages.
OWD 2018 is a joint program of KDWPT, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information, visit www.operationdrywater.org. Information about Kansas boating regulations, registration, education, and requirements is available at www.ksoutdoors.com – click on Boating.