As part of a national effort to reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to boating under the influence, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will participate July 2-4 in Operation Dry Water.
While Operation Dry Water is a year-round BUI awareness and enforcement campaign. That effort will be heightened by Game and Parks’ Law Enforcement Division officers July 2-4 at waters across the state.
Alcohol use while boating is one of the leading factors in boater deaths. In Nebraska, it is unlawful to operate a motorboat with a blood alcohol level content of .08 percent or greater. Doing so constitutes BUI, which carries penalties such as vessel impoundment, fines, jail time and loss of boating privileges.
Alcohol use can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion. Alcohol also is dangerous for passengers as intoxication can cause slips, falls overboard and other dangerous accidents.
“The Commission encourages boaters to enjoy the boating season with friends and family, and we also encourage them do it in a safe and responsible way,” said Craig Stover, administrator for the Law Enforcement Division. “Drinking alcohol while boating can have serious, even deadly consequences, and our goal is to make sure everyone is enjoying their time on the water and staying safe.”
Game and Parks also recommends everyone have all required boating safety equipment on board, including life jackets or U.S. Coast Guard-approved floatation devices, lights, fire extinguisher, horn, bailing bucket and an orange flag if pulling skiers and tubers.
Children age 12 and younger and anyone riding or operating a personal watercraft or being pulled on a towable must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Anyone operating a motorboat or personal watercraft must be at least 14 years old. Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1985, must complete a boater safety course, which can be taken at OutdoorNebraska.gov/boatereducation. For more information on boating rules and requirements, read the 2022 Boating Guide at OutdoorNebraska.gov/guides.
During the 2021 Operation Dry Water, 53 Game and Parks conservation officers contacted 1,127 boaters. Those contacts resulted in 209 safety warnings, 91 citations and four BUIs.
Operation Dry Water is a joint program of Game and Parks, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information, visit OperationDryWater.org.