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DNR on patrol for boating under the influence

  • 6/26/2018 11:51:00 AM
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DES MOINES – Boating while intoxicated is a top enforcement priority for Iowa DNR conservation officers during an upcoming special enforcement project and during the Fourth of July holiday.

Iowa DNR conservation officers will be heavily patrolling Iowa waterways and recreational boating enforcement during the Operation Dry Water campaign, June 29 – July 1.  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, causing injuries and deaths and remove any impaired boat operators, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for boaters this season.

"We want to ensure that recreational boaters, paddlers, and anyone enjoying our waters have a safe place to recreate," says Jeff Swearngin, DNR’s law enforcement bureau chief.  “Choosing to consume alcohol while boating puts everyone at risk, including passengers and people in the water.”

Tips to staying safe on the water this summer:

  • Boat sober. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths*. Alcohol and drug use impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.
  • Wear your life jacket. 85 percent of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket*.
  • Take a boating safety education course. 71 percent 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 navigable waters of the State 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 bureau made 38 Boating While Intoxicated arrests.
  • 25 percent of boating fatalities in Iowa involved alcohol (1 of the 4 fatalities)
  • During Operation Dry Water 2017, 153 Iowa DNR and partnering law enforcement officers spent 1,826 hours making contact with 1,463 vessels, interacting with 5,808 boaters, arresting seven people for Boating While Intoxicated, and issued 478 citations/warnings.

Visit or for more information about boating under the influence. 

*2017 U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics.