DNR Seeing Fewer Boating Accidents But More Intoxicated Operators in ’17

GRANGER, Iowa  --  Temperatures were in the 70s and the sun was out, which meant this weekend was a great time to be on the water. 

“Overall it’s been a busy weekend, there were quite a few boats out yesterday,” said Dustin Eighmy of the Iowa DNR. 

Eighmy is also encouraged by what he is seeing from boaters before they get in the boat.

“This weekend we’ve noticed with the stops we’ve been making on the water and at the ramps, I’ve seen an increase in life jacket use. Everyone has them on, kids have them on, and even adults are having them on,” said Eighmy.

However, Eighmy does see a different trend that is worrisome. 

“Drinking and boating does seem to go hand in hand,” he said. 

In the Des Moines metro alone, DNR officers have issued five boating while intoxicated tickets just this weekend. Aron Arthur tracks these statistics and says this a growing trend. Over half of all boating accidents involve alcohol, and DNR officers want to stop that practice. 

“Boating while intoxicated is one of the key things they are looking for because it’s the most dangerous thing. Once they leave the water, they are also endangering people on the road. So we are trying to stop them before they hit the road. We want everyone to go out and have a good time, but we don’t want them to be impaired while out doing it,” said Arthur.

Arthur says it's not hard to spot a drunk boater, and officers are on the lookout for them. The fine and punishment is similar to that of an OWI. If you want to stay safe on the water this summer, your best bet is to bring your life jackets and a sober operator. 

DNR officials want to remind boaters it is not illegal to have an open container, but it is illegal to operate over a BAC of .08.