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Busy weekend expected on the water, boat operators advised to abstain from alcohol

  • 7/20/2021 11:38:00 AM
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With summer’s temperatures soaring to their highest of the season, Iowa’s lakes and reservoirs will be busy places as Iowans of all ages look to escape the heat. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding boaters to exercise safe boating practices and to have a designated boat operator who abstains from drinking alcohol.

Susan Stocker, boating law administrator and education coordinator for the Iowa DNR said the goal is to reduce boating accidents, injuries and fatalities caused by alcohol impaired operators.

“Alcohol reduces reaction time and the ability to make quick sound judgments in an emergency situation. Then if we factor in the wind and sun and glare off the water combined with the water movement that enhances the effects of alcohol, and that leads to a dangerous situation waiting to happen,” Stocker said. “Boat operators are responsible for everyone on their craft as well as watching all around them for other boaters and personal watercraft coming from all directions. It’s important that the operator avoid alcohol while in this role.”

The Iowa DNR partners with other state, county and local law enforcement to make the waters and roads safer. Iowa’s boating while intoxicated (BWI) blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 percent was aligned with that of motor vehicles in 2011. So far this year, there have been 13 BWI arrests reported to the DNR.

While the BWI laws do not restrict passengers from drinking, Stocker encouraged them to know their alcohol limits.

“We want everyone to enjoy their time on the water, but do so safely and responsibly,” she said.

Top 5 bodies of water for BWI arrests in 2020

  1. Lake Rathbun
  2. Mississippi River
  3. Coralville Reservoir
  4. Okoboji
  5. Saylorville Lake


  • 25 BWI arrests
  • 5 out of 8 boating fatalities involved alcohol
  • 11 of the 38 accidents reported involved alcohol


  • 66 BWI arrests
  • 2 out of 6 fatalities involved alcohol
  • 7 out of 22 accidents reported involved alcohol


  • 39 BWI arrests
  • 3 out of 8 fatalities involved alcohol
  • 11 out of 31 accidents reported involved alcohol