Mississippi River has most boating-while-intoxicated arrests in Iowa

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Authorities focused on boating law enforcement say the Mississippi River has had the highest rate of boating-while-intoxicated arrests for the past three years.

State, federal and local law enforcement agencies plan to partner for the national Operation Dry Water campaign June 28-30, 2013.  The campaign is focuses on drawing attention to the hazards of boating under the influence.  Check points, breath tests and increased patrols are all part of Operation Dry Water.

“More than 70 percent of Iowa’s boating fatalities in 2012 involved alcohol and many of those victims were innocent bystanders,” said Susan Stocker, boating law administrator and education coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“Operators may not think they are under the influence, but their judgment, reaction time, balance and vision indicate they are,” Stocker said.  “The effects of alcohol can be intensified when combined with wind and wave action and an extended time spent in the sun.”

The blood alcohol limit to be declared intoxicated in Iowa is the same for boaters as it is for drivers at .08.

The Iowa DNR issued 136 citations or warnings as part of Operation Dry Water in 2012.   The DNR listed the Mississippi River as the highest area for BWI arrests in 2012, with 32 of the state’s 55 BWI arrests.  Nineteen of the total 55 BWI arrests happened on the Mississippi River in 2011, and 10 of the state’s 40 BWI arrests were made on the Mississippi in 2010.

2012 top 5 highest areas for BWI arrests

Mississippi River: 32

Saylorville Lake: 16

Okoboji: 15

Coralville: 14

Clear Lake: 6

Total BWI: 95

2011 top 5 highest areas for BWI arrests:

Mississippi River: 19

Coralville Reservoir: 13

Saylorville Lake: 13

Okoboji: 4

Clear Lake: 3

Total BWI: 55

2010 top 5 highest areas for BWI arrests:

Mississippi River: 10

Saylorville Lake: 6

Coralville Reservoir: 5

Missouri River: 4

Clear Lake: 3

Total BWI: 40

2009 top 5 highest areas for BWI arrest:

Okoboji: 7

Missouri River: 6

Mississippi River: 5

Saylorville Lake: 5

Clear Lake: 2

Total BWI: 32

2008 top 5 highest areas for BWI arrests:

West Lake Okoboji: 10

Mississippi River: 5

Missouri River: 5

Saylorville Lake: 2

Clear Lake: 2

Total BWI: 35