Drunken boating crackdown begins this weekend

A crackdown on drunken boating begins this weekend.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other public safety agencies are increasing patrols as part of Operation Dry Water, a national campaign to deter boating while intoxicated.

Alcohol was a factor in six out of 14 boating deaths last year in Minnesota. In the past five years, an average of 42 percent of fatal boating accidents were alcohol-related, according to the DNR.

The penalties for driving a boat with a blood alcohol level above .08 result in the same consequences as driving a car.

"There are severe consequences for boating while intoxicated," DNR Conservation Officer Adam Block said in a news release. "But we'd rather arrest someone than have to tell their friends and family — or the friends and family of an innocent victim — that they're never coming home. No one should ever be injured or killed because someone chose to drink and boat."

Ahead of the Fourth of July weekend when there is typically a spike in alcohol-related boating accidents, the DNR warned people that the effects of alcohol can be magnified by sun exposure, wave and boat movement and noise from other boaters.