CLEAR LAKE, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says that the majority of boating accidents and fatalities are linked to folks who are out drinking alcohol and are on the water.
After talking to area officials they say that things were pretty tame out on Clear Lake this weekend, however rowdy behavior is something they plan for and expect every year.
Sheriff’s Dep. Cameron Manson with the Cerro Gordo Sheriff’s Office says, “it’s the same type of crime [boating and drinking], as if you were driving a car. The same criminal penalties apply to somebody who is boating while intoxicated.”
Boating under the influence is a major concern for rental company, Clear Lake Boats.
While they allow folks to stock their coolers full of whatever they want, they have strict policies on making sure that the driver stays sober.
Austin Horner is in charge of briefing folks about boat safety before they venture out onto the water.
He says that over all, they had a very successful weekend, but that people overdoing it is something they often worry about.
“Safety is very important to us,” he says, “but a lot of people want to go on the lake and enjoy a nice cold refreshing beer or pop or whatever and so we let them do that.”
However, being smart and staying safe is the key to any activity with drinking, and area officials have even stepped up their smarts on the water to fine people for drinking and boating.
It used to be that when a boat was stopped out on the water, officials would escort the party involved to shore, wait until their “land legs” returned, and would conduct a sobriety test.
The DNR and the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office have been working together and training on ways to conduct these tests out on the water to eliminate any extra and unnecessary boating while under the influence.
They do simple tests like asking the driver to tap their thumb to each of their fingers, and tap their finger to their nose.
They might sound like simple sobriety test request, but officials believe that they are more than effective.
Stepping up on simple routine checks like this is expected to be very beneficial in keeping folks safe on the water, especially since the Minnesota DNR BUI’s, or boating under the influence, is their number one violation that leads to arrest on holiday weekends.
With the rest of the summer still ahead, officials are asking boaters to arrange to have a designated driver while on the water as well as when you make your way home.