Missouri State Highway Patrol cracks down on impaired boaters

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri State Highway Patrol will have extra patrol boats on all of Missouri's state waterways Friday through Sunday.

The MSHP is participating in the national campaign "Operation Dry Water" in an effort to crack down on impaired boaters.

MSHP Corporal Scott White said the heightened awareness takes place the weekend before the Fourth of July.

"The mission of Operation Dry Water is actually to deter those people from driving a boat while intoxicated," White said. "And when I say intoxicated, that not only refers to alcohol, that refers to drugs and also controlled substances."

White said Marine Operations Troopers will patrol the waters looking for careless boaters.

"We'll be looking for those violations that are dangerous," White said. "You have to realize that out on the Lake of the Ozarks, especially here in central Missouri, there's no stop signs and there's no center lines. So a lot of those violations are cutting too close to other vessels or maybe people in the water."

White said the cost of impaired boating can mean more than just an arrest.

"More importantly, not only the fine, but the human cost of that," White said. "Not only can they get arrested for boating while intoxicated, they could cause serious injury or death to themselves or another person. And that's what we're trying to deter and that's what we're trying to prevent."

White said troopers contacted 431 boat drivers and arrested eight of them last year during last year's Operation Dry Water campaign weekend. 

"If somebody is operating a vessel while intoxicated, they will be arrested," White said. 

White said every available trooper will work 10 hour shifts to patrol the waters this weekend.