The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF)wants Louisiana outdoor adventurers to have a fun time over the 4th of July holiday. They just want it to be done safely. To help make sure that takes place, the LDWF is enacting “Operation Dry Water” from July 2 to July 4 whereLDWF agents will be out in force patrolling state waterways for impaired boat operators during the Operation Dry Water weekend.
“We take boating safety on Louisiana waterways very seriously and that includes our DWI enforcement,” said Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Major Clay Marques, the state’s boating law administrator. “We want everyone to feel safe on the water this Fourth of July weekend and that starts with having a sober operator of your vessel.”
A boater’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time can all be impaired by alcohol. It can cause fatigue and make you more susceptible to the effects of cold water immersion. The effects of alcohol, drugs, and some prescription medications are exacerbated by the sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion.
According to LDWF, alcohol is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating incidents nationwide, accounting for 16% of all deaths on the water. In 2021, Louisiana had 27 boating fatalities, with alcohol accounting for eight of them (30 percent).
Impaired boaters caught this weekend can expect severe penalties. A DWI on the water in Louisiana carries the same penalties and fines as a DWI on the road, including jail time, fines, and the loss of driving and boating operator privileges. Anyone arrested for DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver’s license and boating privileges for the duration of the case, as ordered by the judge. Furthermore, whether on the water or on land, each offense of operating a vehicle or vessel while intoxicated counts toward the total number of DWI crimes.
A DWI can be issued in Louisiana to anyone who is operating a moving vessel or vehicle while impaired. The first offense of DWI carries a fine of $300 to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.