EL DORADO, Kan. (KSNW) — Kansas state parks have been busy over the holiday weekend.
Lake goers will notice more boating officers patrolling the waters. It’s part of a nationwide campaign called “Operation Dry Water.” Park officials are trying to raise awareness of boating under the influence (BUI).
“We drive around and we observe the behavior of boaters on the water” said Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism game warden Tracy Cikanek. “If we see somebody doing something they shouldn’t be doing, we’ll make contact with them. We’ll stop them, and if there’s alcohol on the boat, then we’ll address that.”
Officers will administer breathalyzer tests. If the driver of the boat blows a blood alcohol content of .08 or more. It’s considered a BUI.
Officers say they understand people might want to enjoy the nice weather and drink a cold beer on the water, but there are lots of dangers that people overlook.
“One of the most common dangers is people don’t recognize that when they’re on the water, alcohol is going to affect them greater than it does on land,” said Cikanek.
He added that the heat, waves and rocking of the boat intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and medication.
“You don’t realize you’ve had as much to drink, until you actually get out and step on land,” Cikanek said. “Your reaction skills, everything else is going to be impaired by that.”
Some of the behaviors officers see, when someone has had too much to drink, includes riding on the back of the boat or creating wakes.
If a driver is issued a BUI citation, penalties include: jail time and a fine up to $1,000.
According to Cikanek, it doesn’t affect your driving record, unless you get caught driving under the influence after you get a BUI.
If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, officers say you will go to jail and lose boating privileges for three months.
Aside from issuing breathalyzer tests, officers encourage lake goers to practice basic water safety:
- Stay hydrated
- Be aware of other boats
- Wear a life jacket