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Operation: Dry Water

The three-day special enforcement looks for boaters under the influence
Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 5:22 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The hot, humid weather means local waters will be popular destinations this weekend for a lot of people. They might be even busier because people won’t be attending the usual festivals and fireworks shows canceled due to the pandemic.

You can also expect more law enforcement patrols on the water. They’ll be looking especially for impaired boaters. “Operation: Dry Water” is now underway.

The three-day special enforcement takes place every year around the 4th of July. Local, state and federal authorities patrol the rivers, lakes and bay to make sure people not only have safety equipment like life jackets and throw ropes but are driving sober.

“We’re looking for people to just be safe, smart and following the rules and regulations that are for the water. Having a good time also, but being safe about it,” DNR conservation warden Gaven Brault said.

Brault is prepping for a long and hot weekend on the water. He’ll be patrolling part of the Fox River and Bay of Green Bay, where he says it’s been busier than normal the last few weeks.

“I can tell you right now, the daytime will be busy with it being 90 degrees,” he remarked.

The same as on our roads, operating a boat with a blood-alcohol level higher than 0.08 is not just illegal, it’s dangerous.

“On the water, there’s technically no lanes that people weave, but there are still rules of the water for people to follow for give way, stand on vessels,” Brault said. “When you’re intoxicated, your reaction time is always a little bit slower, and with a boat there’s no seat belts also, so that’s another huge safety thing.”

The Department of Natural Resources reports 25 people were caught driving a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol over three days last summer during Operation: Dry Water. Throughout the entire season, the DNR issued 132 citations for boating under the influence.

Brault says mixing alcohol with a long day on the water, especially in this heat, can lead to dangerous consequences for boaters who think they can safely operate a boat.

“They’re on the water and it seems like it’s less than a vehicle, but then when they pull their boat back on the trailer, then they’re getting back in the vehicle and doing the same thing if they’re intoxicated,” Brault said. “We just want people to be safe and smart about it.”

Brault also reminds all boaters to be cautious with record high water levels. There may be debris in the water that could also pose risks.

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