Operation Dry Water anchors DNR safety, enforcement efforts during long holiday week

Published 2:52 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2024

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People across the state are gearing up for lots of time on the water in the days ahead and just after the Fourth of July holiday. As they do, Minnesota Department of Resources conservation officers and their public safety partners are reminding them to keep safety at the top of their list.

There are a variety of factors for boaters to keep in mind, including busy waterways, locally high water, and an increased law enforcement presence to keep everyone safe. The latter is part of Operation Dry Water, a nationwide campaign that runs July 4-6 to highlight the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs and call attention to the heavy penalties associated with boating while intoxicated.

In Minnesota and across the nation, BWI is the leading contributing factor to boating accidents and fatalities. While many boaters do the right thing by leaving alcohol on shore, dozens of them are arrested for BWI each year in the days surrounding the Fourth of July.

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“There’s no gray area when it comes to boating under the influence: If you’re caught, you will go to jail,” said Lt. Eric Sullivan, the DNR Enforcement Division’s Marine Unit supervisor. “Anyone who makes the choice to boat under the influence puts at risk the safety of everyone else on the water.”

In Minnesota, which has particularly strong BWI laws, anyone convicted of drinking and driving – whether they’re operating a boat, motor vehicle, or recreational vehicle – loses their privilege to operate any of them.

In addition to staying “dry” while on the water by avoiding drugs and alcohol, the DNR urges anyone who’s on a boat to wear a life jacket. Oftentimes, boating accidents turn into fatalities because the people who fell overboard weren’t wearing a life jacket.

Some of the state’s waterways – rivers, in particular – have extremely high water as a result of recent rainfall. Boaters, paddlers, and others should stay off them until the water recedes.For more information on Operation Dry Water and boating safety, visit the Operation Dry Water website (operationdrywater.org) and the boating safety webpage of the DNR website (mndnr.gov/boatingsafety).