Wildlife officers targeting impaired boaters

Wildlife officers set to crack down on impaired boaters LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Boaters would do better to leave the cold beer at home – especially this summer. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officers will be out on Arkansas's waters to crackdown on those Boating Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs.

AGFC Boating Law Administrator Stephanie Weatherington says that BUI is a concern for Arkansas wildlife officers. "It's no different than driving a car under the influence. When you're driving a boat you're putting both yourself and others in danger," she said. Since 2008 there have been 199 arrests for BUI in Arkansas. AGFC wildlife officers will be searching for boat operators whose blood alcohol concentration exceeds the national limit of .08 percent.

Alcohol can impair a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion – "stressors" common to the boating environment – intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs, and some prescription medications.

Operation Dry Water, launched in 2009 by NASBLA in partnership with the United States Coast Guard, has been a highly successful effort to draw public attention to the hazards of BUI. Operation Dry Water is a national weekend of BUI detection and enforcement aimed at reducing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities and fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water. It is held during the summer boating season and coordinated by NASBLA, in partnership with the states, the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies. Curbing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities is key to achieving a safer and more enjoyable environment for recreational boating.

For more information on Operation Dry Water, visit www.operationdrywater.org.