Operation Dry Water is a year-round boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign, but over the three-day Fourth of July weekend the focus is on heightened enforcement and enforcement.

According to Operation Dry Water organizers, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Since Fourth Of July weekend tends to be a weekend known for drinking and boating, it is the perfect weekend to increase both enforcement and awareness.

There are several reasons why boating under the influence of alcohol is a bad idea, including:

  • Alcohol use can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time
  • Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion —“stressors” common to the boating environment— intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications
  • Alcohol use can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.
  • Alcohol is dangerous for passengers too. Intoxication can cause slips, falls over board and other dangerous accidents.
  • If you boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol you are endangering your life and the lives of others. The video below serves as a sobering reminder.

In Minnesota, the legal alcohol limit to operate a boat is .08%. The penalty for boating under the influence can include large fines and/or jail time and/or loss of boating privileges during boating season.

Wisconsin's legal alcohol limit is also .08%. The penalty for boating under the influence in Wisconsin can include large fines, possible jail time, and possible completion of a boating safety course.

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To stay safe on the water over Fourth Of July weekend, and at any time of year, experts say to always remember The Big Three:

  1. BOAT SOBER - Never boat under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.
  2. WEAR A LIFE JACKET - 86% of people who drowned in a recreational boating accident were not wearing a life jacket. Always wear your life jacket!
  3. TAKE A BOATING SAFETY COURSE - In accidents where the operator’s instruction was known, 70% of fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received any boating safety instruction.

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