If your plans this weekend including hitting a favorite Minnesota lake or river and knocking back several beers, you might want to reconsider.
Beginning today and continuing through Sunday, conservation officers from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and county sheriff’s water patrol deputies will be out in force for Operation Drywater. In a news release, the DNR said it’s part of a nationwide effort to draw attention to boating under the influence (BUI) enforcement before the Fourth of July and peak boating season.
Officers will be on the lookout for boat and watercraft operators whose blood alcohol content is .08 or higher.
“We intend to reach out to as many people as possible about the hazards of boating under the influence,” Capt. Greg Salo, DNR Central Region enforcement manager, said in a statement. “Some boaters will face the consequences of boating under the influence. We would much rather arrest someone than to have to tell a family that the person is never coming home again.”
BUI continues to be a major problem throughout the country. In Minnesota, alcohol was involved in 50 percent of 16 boating fatalities in 2011, the DNR said.
BUI carries the same consequences as operating a motor vehicle under the influence. In Minnesota, that includes a $1,000 fine, possible jail time and loss of boat operating privileges for 90 days. Conviction also goes on driver’s license records and may affect car insurance premiums.