Law enforcement cracking down on drinking while boating - KCTV5

Law enforcement cracking down on drinking while boating

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Operation Dry Water kicks off Friday which means officers are out in force as they crack down on drunk drivers on Missouri and Kansas lakes.

So far this year the Kansas City area is seeing a spike in recreational-related deaths. From drowning to crashes, officers said alcohol is one of the main factors that leads to death on the water.

Conservation Officer Jon Eintwhistle knows how to spot a boater who shouldn't be behind the wheel.

"You are going to see the slurred speech. You are going to notice the smell of an alcoholic beverage," he said.

One group of wakeboarders he stopped didn't have the proper life jacket or ski flag, but they did have beer. Eintwhistle gave them a warning because no one had been drinking.

He said anyone with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher should expect an arrest.

"You've got the certain stressors. You've got the vibration from the boat, the heat, the sun. They all intensify the effects of the alcohol while out on the water," Eintwhistle said.

Officers will increase patrols from June 28 through June 30 for Operation Dry Water. They're searching for anyone boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"Over the last eight years we've had 68 recreational-related deaths. Only one of those was wearing a life jacket," said Natural Resource Manager Samantha Jones.

So far this year the Kansas City district has had eight recreational-related deaths.

"At least half of those had been alcohol-related. That's a very high number. This year has been especially bad," Jones said.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism law enforcement officers are teaming up to catch those who decide to drink and drive on the water.

"Have a good time. Have fun. Be safe, but also be responsible," Eintwhistle said.

Last year Kansas had 27 boat accidents. Two people were killed and 13 were injured. Anyone who is arrested for a BUI or boating under the influence, faces up to a $500 fine, 30 days in jail and revoked boating privileges.

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