Game wardens with the Nevada Department of Wildlife will target operating under the influence violators this weekend in waters across the state as part of a nationally coordinated enforcement effort dubbed "Operation Dry Water."
In an effort to reduce the number of boaters operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Operation Dry Water will include increased patrols, investigations, information and education, and possible arrests by Nevada game wardens throughout the weekend targeting drunken boaters at Lake Lahontan, Lake Mead, Lake Mohave and South Fork Reservoir. Game wardens also will be handing out boating safety and education information and stepped up inspections for required safety equipment.
"We want people to be have a great time boating," said David Pfiffner, Nevada's boating law administrator, "but drunken boating has become a serious problem in many parts of our state in fatal accidents."
According to the most recent U.S. Coast Guard statistics from 2008, 17 percent of deaths from recreational boating accidents resulted from boaters impaired by alcohol or drugs.
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 intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications.
Many boaters don't realize that operating under the influence carries the same penalties as driving drunk in a car, including, steep fines and jail time, Pfiffner said.
"There will be arrests this weekend, and some boaters will face the consequences of boating under the influence," said Pfiffner, "but we'd much rather arrest someone than to have to tell their friends and family they're never coming back."