Minnesota DNR to increase water patrols over July 4th weekend to curb impaired boating

(ABC 6 News) – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) is encouraging everyone to be safe on the water over the long Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The MN DNR, Minnesota State Patrol and local agencies, are increasing patrols on lakes and rivers that are expected to be busy.

They announced ‘Operation Dry Water’ on Thursday at the Hennepin County Water Patrol Center in Spring Park on Lake Minnetonka. It’s a national initiative with the goal of discouraging people from boating under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

“Since COVID, our boat registration numbers have increased. We’ve regained any losses that we had seen in the numbers in the last decade, so we know the lakes are very busy for that reason alone,” said Adam Block, MN DNR Enforcement Boating Law Administrator.

According to the MN DNR, in more than half of boating fatalities in Minnesota, alcohol is the main factor.

“If you’re caught boating under the influence, you’ll get a stay in jail – not a second chance” said Block. “People out enjoying the water the right way should not be put at risk because of someone else’s decision to drink and boat.”

The penalties associated with boating under the influence are high, particularly in Minnesota, which has some of the nation’s strongest BWI laws. People convicted of drinking and driving – whether they’re driving a boat, motor vehicle or recreational vehicle – lose their privilege to operate any of them.

Operation Dry Water activities are sponsored by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard.

For more information on boat water and safety, CLICK HERE.