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Iowa DNR law enforcement conducting special boating while intoxicated enforcement project

  • 6/29/2017 10:50:00 AM
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DES MOINES, Iowa -- As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, the Iowa DNR law enforcement officers will be focusing on keeping boaters safe by cracking down on boating under the influence. The DNR will be conducting heightened awareness and enforcement of boating under the influence laws as part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign in hopes to decrease the number of crashes and deaths.

From June 30 - July 2, law enforcement nationwide will be looking for impaired boaters as part of Operation Dry Water weekend. Boaters will notice an increase in the numbers of officers on the water and at recreational boating checkpoints. This effort will result in the removal of impaired operators, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for boaters this boating season.

"As a part of the community ourselves, we want to ensure that recreational boaters, paddlers, and anyone enjoying our waters have a safe place to spend their time on the water, " says Jeff Swearngin, DNR’s law enforcement bureau chief.  “Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time on the water just as is does when driving a car, even more so because of the added stressors of sun, heat, wind, and noise on a boat. Choosing to consume alcohol while boating puts everyone at risk, including passengers and people in the water. Our goal is to remove anyone choosing to operate a vessel impaired and to keep everyone else safe.”

Tips to staying safe on the water this summer:

  • Boat sober. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths*. Alcohol and drugs use impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.
  • Wear your life jacket. 85% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket*.
  • Take a boating safety education course. 71% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction, where instruction was known*.

Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal on all bodies of water and can lead to serious injuries and consequences. In Iowa, it is illegal to operate a vessel with a BAC level of .08 or higher - the same as it is to operate a vehicle. If you are found to be impaired and operating a boat you will be arrested.


  • The Iowa DNR law enforcement made 46 Boating While Intoxicated arrests.
  • 33% of boating fatalities in Iowa involved alcohol (2 of the 6 fatalities)
  • During Operation Dry Water 2016, 102 Iowa DNR law enforcement officers spent 98 hours making contact with 776 vessels, interacting with 2,201 boaters, arresting 10 people for Boating While Intoxicated, and issued 227 citations/warnings.

Visit or for more information about boating under the influence. 

*2015 U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics.