POSTED: Monday, June 25, 2012 - 1:15pm
UPDATED: Monday, June 25, 2012 - 1:19pm
LOUISIANA — In support of Operation Dry Water, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) arrested five boaters statewide for driving or operating a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) from Friday, June 22 to Sunday, June 24.
LDWF agents issued DWIs to Joshua Fortenberry, 23, of Watson, Ark., on Moon Lake in Ouachita Parish, on June 23; Thurman Hitchcock, 65, of West Monroe, on the Ouachita River in Quachita Parish on June 24; Kayward Hebert, 61, of Kaplan, on Henderson Bay in St. Martin Parish on June 23; Nelson Navarre, 54, of Vinton, on the Sabine River in Calcasiue River on June 23; and James Walker Jr., 37, of Baton Rouge, on the Diversion Canal in Livingston Parish on June 24.
"We take DWI enforcement on the water very serious since the leading cause of boating fatalities is alcohol," said Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, the state's boating law administrator. "We want everybody on the water to have a good time, but to keep in mind that they need a designated driver just like on land."
Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications.
Louisiana had 36 fatalities from boating crash incidents in 2011 with five of those listing alcohol as a primary cause. Nationwide, statistics from 2011 reveal that 16 percent of all boat incident fatalities were a direct result of alcohol or drug use.
LDWF agents issued 108 DWI citations to boat operators in 2011 with 10 of those occurring over the Operation Dry Water weekend.
In Louisiana, a DWI on the water carries the same penalties and fines as on the road and includes jail time, fines and loss of driving and boating operator privileges.
Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver's license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case. Also, each offense of operating a vehicle or vessel while intoxicated counts toward the total number of DWI crimes whether they happened on the water or road.
In Louisiana a DWI can be issued to anyone operating a moving vessel or vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. First offense DWI carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Second offense DWI brings a $750 to $1,000 fine and between 30 days and six months in jail. Third offense DWI carries a $5,000 fine and between one and five years in jail.
Operation Dry Water was started in 2009 and is a joint program involving the LDWF/LED, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the U.S. Coast Guard. More information is available at www.operationdrywater.org .