Woodward, Okla. —
The Marine Enforcement Section of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol will participate in Operation Dry Water along with boating enforcement officers nationwide in an effort to educate the public on the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Every year local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and boating safety partners participate in Operation Dry Water, a three-day heightened BUI enforcement weekend. This year the ODW weekend is June 27-29.
The Mission of Operation Dry Water is to raise public awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence and to reduce the number of deaths on the water related to alcohol consumption.
The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for compiling statistics on boating accidents in the U.S. They report that "alcohol is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 16 percent of deaths."
The Oklahoma Department of Safety states, "The effect of alcohol is magnified by natural stressors that are placed on your body while boating. Dehydration combined with exposure to the sun, wind, and waves magnify the effects of alcohol. Symptoms include: poor coordination, delayed reaction time, difficulty in multi-tasking, and inattention. If you drink while boating, designate a non-drinking boat operator just as you would designate a non-drinking driver."
"Troopers will be out on the lakes and will be contacting boaters in an effort to keep the waterways safe in Oklahoma," Captain Victor Lee of the Marine Enforcement Section said.
The law in Oklahoma states that the operator of a vessel can be arrested for operating under the influence if their breath or blood alcohol concentration is at or above .08%. Passengers can also be arrested for public intoxication if they have been drinking and are causing problems or being belligerent.
"There is a 31 percent decrease from 2012 to 2013 in the number of deaths of recreational boaters where alcohol use was the known primary contributing factor," according to Lori Swanson, public affairs, OHP/DPS.
As the boating season gets underway marine enforcement officials will work on educating boaters and instilling in them the dangers and consequences of boating under the influence.
For questions regarding boating laws or boating education classes, contact the Marine Enforcement Section at 405-522-1880.