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Operation Dry Water Hits Iowa Lakes, Rivers
JOHNSON COUNTY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - Boating drunk could be more dangerous than driving drunk, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
With that in mind, more DNR officers will be out on Iowa's waterways this weekend looking for intoxicated boaters as a part of a nationwide effort called Operation Dry Water.
Boating While Intoxicated, BWI, citations were down almost 60 percent in 2013 as compared to 2012, while Operation Dry Water was in effect. While there isn't a necessary causal link between the decrease and the operation, DNR conservation officer Erika Billerbeck said it does help to raise awareness.
For Gary Franck, keeping booze off of his boat is just a matter of habit.
"Actually there is no alcohol on our boat, so we try keeping it that way and make sure it's safe for everyone," Franck said as he and his friend Amanda Hoy watched their four children put on life jackets. "And try teaching them good habits for the future."
There seem to be more and more people like Franck out on the water this year, Billerback said.
"I think people are starting to get the message, basically. We're seeing a lot more designated drivers than we've seen in the past," she said.
During several routine safety checks on the Coralville Lake on Friday afternoon, Billerback found that every boater was in compliance, and none of them were drunk. Most BWI citations come out of a routine safety check where an officer sees signs that a boater might be intoxicated.
"So as we're checking for the safety equipment, I'm watching the coordination of the driver to see if they can, you know, get the things that I ask them to get for me, to show me, whether they can remember what I've asked for them to show me," she said.
Dedicated sober boaters like Franck signify a healthy habit that Billerback hopes many others pick up.
"Hopefully we can keep that going through the generations and then we don't have issues with it," Franck said.
Extra patrol officers will be out on the Coralville Lake on Friday night only, but could be anywhere in the nation between Friday and Sunday.