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Boat Sober: Or You Could Lose Your Boat

Photo Credit Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources

Alcohol and boating don’t mix! The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is reminding everyone that operating a boat under the influence is not only illegal, it is extremely dangerous. Overall, alcohol is involved in nearly one in every four fatal boating-related accidents in Ohio.

“Safe boating is the best boating,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “Boating under the influence endangers everyone — you, your family and friends, and other boaters.”

This holiday weekend, ODNR’s natural resources officers will heighten their focus on removing impaired boaters from Ohio’s waterways as well as educating boaters on the importance of sober boating during the Operation Dry Water campaign.

It is illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher in Ohio. Persons found to be boating under the influence can expect to incur severe penalties such as being arrested and having their boat impounded.

Alcohol impairs a boater’s judgement, vision, and reaction time. Alcohol also increases fatigue. Common stressors, such as sun, wind, vibration, and motion, can intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications.

Alcohol use is dangerous for passengers as well. Intoxicated passengers can easily slip, fall overboard, or suffer other life-threatening injuries.

Coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, Operation Dry Water is a national crackdown on impaired boating. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths, and a leading factor in recreational boating accidents, according to the U.S Coast Guard’s 2019 boating statistics.

The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft administers Ohio’s boating programs. Funding to support local marine patrol units comes from the state’s Waterways Safety Fund, which is comprised of the state motor fuel tax, watercraft registration and titling fees, as well as funds provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft provides exceptional outdoor recreation and boating opportunities by balancing outstanding customer service, education, and conservation of Ohio’s 75 state parks and waterways.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at


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