DNR: Drop in drunken boating arrests and accidents in Minnesota

(Released June 26, 2014)

Ramped up enforcement this weekend

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports a major drop in drunken boating arrests and accidents around the state. This news comes as the DNR, county sheriff’s offices and federal agencies are stepping up patrols for impaired boaters this weekend — June 27-29.  

So far this year, 10 people have been arrested for boating while intoxicated BWI on Minnesota waters — compared to more than 20 arrests this time last year.

In 2013, 89 people were arrested for BWI compared to 158 in 2012— a 50 percent drop.

And one of the three boating fatalities in 2014 has been alcohol related.

Alcohol use was a factor in about 8 percent of fatal boating accidents in 2013 compared to 33 percent in 2012.

“We have zero tolerance for anyone found operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs on our waters,” said Capt. Greg Salo, DNR enforcement, central region manager. “Drinking alcohol and boating has serious, even deadly, consequences and our goal is to make sure everyone makes it home after a day on the water.”

Weather has played a role in the decline in alcohol-related incidents, he said. Due to a late spring, in combination with heavy rains, fewer boaters are on the water. But boaters are also making safe decisions. DNR conservation officers and water patrol deputies are seeing more boaters with designated sober operators.

Operating a boat with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher is against the law. Boaters caught operating under the influence will find their day on the water come to an end and their boat will be impounded. Additional penalties can include arrest, fines and loss of boating privileges.

This weekend’s enforcement is part of Operation Dry Water, a national weekend BWI education and enforcement aimed at reducing alcohol and drug-related accidents and deaths. It’s sponsored by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard.

For more information, go to the boat and water safety Web page.