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MADD, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, team up for boating BUI and ATV DUI prevention campaign to kick off summer recreation season

  • 5/16/2023 1:56:00 PM
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Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Illinois volunteers and staff are teaming up with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to promote safe boating and ATV seasons and to educate about the dangers of operating a boat, watercraft, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) while impaired by alcohol or other drugs.

“Recreational Vehicle impaired crashes affect families the same way as road vehicles impaired crashes do,” said MADD Iowa regional executive director Erin Payton. “Unfortunately, there is not always the same mindset for recreational vehicle drivers in terms of choosing to operate them sober.”

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is a leading known contributing factor in fatal boating incidents. Where the primary cause was known, alcohol was listed as the leading contributing factor in 18 percent of deaths in 2020.

Additionally, a boater is likely to become impaired more quickly than an automobile driver, and even moderate drinking can cause significant impairment on a boat. The environmental stressors of the marine environment - motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind, and spray - accelerate the impairing effect of alcohol. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boater’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol.

Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is against federal law and most state laws.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety created a Fatality Facts 2020: Motorcycles and ATVs report. Where the primary cause of ATV crash was known there were 111 estimated ATV deaths with BACs greater or equal to 0.08, and 73 estimated ATV deaths with BACs greater or equal to 0.15.

“It’s important to remember that operating any type of vehicle while under the influence on the water or on land can cause traumatic injuries and tragic loss of life,” said Susan Stocker, Iowa DNR boating law administrator/education coordinator. “If your plans include alcohol, consider doing so on shore AFTER you are finished boating for the day and have a designated driver to get you to your next destination on land.”

MADD and the Iowa DNR remind all recreation explorers to take the following safety precautions this summer:


  • Take a boating safety course
  • Boat responsibly on the water
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Attach the engine cut-off switch
  • Get a free vessel safety check
  • Never drink or use drugs and operate a boat

Find more information at


  • Take an ATV safety course
  • Always wear appropriate gear (helmets, goggles, clothing)
  • Ride an ATV that’s right for your age
  • Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV
  • Supervise riders younger than 16
  • Never drink or use drugs and operate an ATV or UTV