Iowa’s peak boating season begins May 26 and with it comes a reminder about the change to .08 alcohol limit for boat operators that became law on July 1, 2011.
“Going boating with friends is a fun way to spend a day and just like car drivers, boat operators are responsible for their passengers’ safety and for other boaters on the water,” says Jeff Morrison, state conservation officer for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
“A designated boat operator who abstains from alcohol is what we recommend. Consuming even a little alcohol can have its intoxicating effects enhanced due to wind and wave action, the sun and glare off the water,” Morrison says.
“I am expecting it to be a really busy weekend on the water so operators will need to be on the lookout for other boaters in addition to driving their boat. Alcohol can reduce their reaction time and impair their ability to make sound judgments quickly.”
In 2011, 54 boat operators were cited for boating while intoxicated.
“We will have officers patrolling on the water all summer with additional patrols during weekends and holidays when boat traffic is highest,” he says.
Officers will also perform routine safety equipment inspections.
Morrison said boaters should slow their speeds with the expected heavy traffic, watch out for other boaters, go through their boat and trailer looking for problems before leaving the driveway and make sure their safety equipment is on board and in working order.
“We don’t want to send someone off the water to take care of an issue that was easily solvable in their driveway,” Morrison says. Iowa has nearly 229,000 registered boats.
• Don’t drink and boat
• Take a boating safety course
• Always wear a lifejacket – it can’t work if it’s not on
• Review boating laws
• Have patience and be courteous on the ramp and water
• Get a weather forecast before heading out
• Keep watch for other boaters, swimmers, skiers or objects in the water