LAKE OF THE OZARKS - The Missouri State Highway Patrol kicked off a weekend-long campaign called "Operation Dry Water" on Friday. The campaign helps troopers identify and apprehend drunk water vehicle operators.
Highway Patrolman Clr. Dean Bartlett said the campaign is not only to arrest intoxicated drivers, but also to prevent collisions, drownings and provide safe waters for mid-Missouri. "We want to make the public aware that boats need sober operators. " Bartlett said. "Last year we had eight people drown at the Lake of the Ozarks because the operator wasn't aware and was drinking," Bartlett added.
Bartlett said troopers will aggressively check operators of boats and personal water crafts, and make sure their blood alcohol content is under .08 percent.
"People on boats can actually become intoxicated two-thirds times quicker than they normally would on land," Bartlett said. "What a 12-pack would do on land is equal to what four beers would do on water."
Bartlett stressed having a sober operator is important, especially when passengers decide to take a dip in the water.
A press release from the Highway Patrol said Operation Dry Water involved more than 4,500 officers and removed 337 BWI operators from waters nationwide within a 72-hour period last year. Over the past five years, Missouri troopers stopped more than 1,200 BWI operators. Bartlett said he believes the yearly operation has really helped make the waters safe for the busy holiday that follows.
The highway patrol will be conducting special enforcement operations throughout the rest of the summer. Troopers suggest every operator have a sober skipper to help assist when alcohol is present.