When you get a “named” weekend, something like Louisiana’s recently celebrated Free Fishing Days weekend, it’s usually to commemorate something special.
Not when it comes to Operation Dry Water weekend set Friday through Sunday, and not when Enforcement Division agents in the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries join with wildlife division officers across the country to in a crackdown on boating-while-intoxicated offenders.
That’s the focus for the upcoming three days: A nationally coordinated enforcement campaign to deter, and possibly arrest boaters operating their crafts under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
After boating deaths attributed to victims who did not wear life jackets, overimbibing alcohol is a major factor in recreational boating-related deaths, and is the major factor in recreational boating accidents. Stats compiled in 2014 show alcohol abuse was the primary factor in 21 percent of boating fatalities.
“The decision about whether to drink and boat under the influence is a choice every boater makes, ” said John Fetterman, of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
During the past five Operation Dry Water weekends, law enforcement officers removed 1,875 boating-under-the-influence operators from the nation’s waterways.
“Boating under the influence is a 100 percent preventable crime. Operation Dry Water, participating law enforcement agencies and our boating safety partners encourage boaters to stay safe by staying sober while boating,” Fetterman said.
LDWF agents noted BWI and DWI violations carry the same state penalties.