Boating On ‘Dry Water’ In Ohio

Some people think that boating and beer go hand-in-hand, like baseball and hotdogs or hockey and fighting. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, however, is taking part in a nation-wide crackdown on boating under the influence (B.U.I.): “Operation Dry Water“.

Operation Dry Water is a national campaign to enforce laws prohibiting boating under the influence. This is the second year for the campaign. In the United States last year, officers nationally wrote 5,320 warnings and arrested 283 people for drunk boating. In Ohio last year, more than 100 citations were written, and 12 people were arrested for operating a boat under the influence.

The Ohio law regarding B.U.I. is found in Ohio Revised Code section 1547.11. That statute prohibits operating or being in physical control of any vessel (including water skis!) on the water if the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The law makes it illegal to operate or be in physical control of a water vessel with a prohibited concentration of alcohol or certain drugs in the person’s breath, blood or urine. Penalties for B.U.I. include a jail sentence of three days to six months, a fine of $150 to $1,000, and up to five years of probation.

Boating under the influence is increasingly monitored. There is even a website: boatingundertheinfluence.org. Enforcement of B.U.I. in central Ohio will be especially heavy this summer, particularly on weekends and holidays. As advised by a DNR officer in the Columbus Dispatch, “If you don’t feel you can get behind the wheel of a car, you shouldn’t be driving a boat”.