Law enforcement, particularly game wardens, will be extra vigilant this weekend at lakes around Kansas especially looking for boaters under the influence. Kansas is one of multiple states participating in “Operation Dry Water.”
Operation Dry Water’s heightened awareness and enforcement three-day weekend takes place annually around July fourth, a holiday unfortunately known for drinking and boating, and deadly accidents.
According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism boating under the influence is a major problem in Kansas and across the nation. 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.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Recreational 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.
Kansas 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.
“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 faster than on shore.”
During the 2017 Operation Dry Water in Kansas, game wardens issued 26 boating citations, 35 boating-related warnings and recorded two BUI offenses.
Information about Kansas boating regulations, registration, education, and requirements is available at www.ksoutdoors.com – click on Boating.