Our Opinion: Water Patrol urges boaters to stay dry

News Tribune editorial

Boaters in Missouri are urged to stay dry — as in sober — while on the water.

To that end, the state’s Water Patrol Division will participate the weekend of June 22-24 in Operation Dry Water, a national campaign targeting boating while intoxicated.

Missouri’s waterways, like its highways, can be dangerous.

In 2011, Missouri recorded 74 boating accidents that resulted in 89 injuries, according to Capt. Tim Hull of the Missouri Highway Patrol, which oversees the Water Patrol.

So far this year, Hull reported 22 boating accidents resulting in 24 injuries.

The danger, whether on highways or waterways, is amplified whenever someone drinks more than the legal limit and gets behind the wheel.

The legal blood-alcohol limit in Missouri is 0.08 for drivers of both vehicles and boats.

Is boating while intoxicated a problem?

The figures speak for themselves. Arrests for boating while intoxicated totaled 194 in 2011 and are at 75 so far this year.

And, unless boaters heed the warning, that number will increase.

In announcing the Operation Dry Water initiative, Col. Ron Replogle, patrol superintendent, said boat operators with a blood alcohol content exceeding the legal limit will be arrested.

“To ensure the safety for all people on the water,” he advised, “boaters should designate a sober operator for their vessel anytime their plans include alcohol.”

We encourage boaters to obey the law not only during the designated enforcement, but whenever they take the wheel.

The possible consequences — arrest, accident, injury or worse — simply do not justify the risk.

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