"Operation Dry Water" targeting boaters under the influence

Now that summer has finally arrived in Wisconsin, more people are spending some of their free time enjoying the state's lakes and rivers, especially in the Milwaukee area. A day on the water is something that many families look forward to each weekend.

Most boaters are familiar with the rules and regulations that apply when they are out on the water. They realize that if they do anything that potentially places others at risk, that they could be facing the loss of their boating privileges. However, many boaters are unaware of some of the strong penalties that can apply if they are discovered to be boating under the influence.

Like driving under the influence, a person can be charged with a BUI if his or her blood-alcohol content is above 0.08 percent. If a boater is above this limit, he or she will be ordered off of the water.

If convicted of these charges, these individuals could be facing high fines, as well as jail time for repeat offenses. They also will need to complete alcohol safety courses before they will be allowed back on the water.

This year, law enforcement agencies throughout the state are once again participating in Operation Dry Water, a campaign aimed at reducing the number of drunk boaters within the state. This includes officers from police departments that have specially-trained marine units, as well as game wardens working with the state Department of Natural Resources.

In 2012, according to law enforcement statistics, there were 11 people arrested for BUI during the Fourth of July weekend. An additional 704 boaters received citations or warnings for other types of violations.

Law enforcement is focused on reducing the number of drunk boaters because of the increased risk of accident when impaired. The United States Coast Guard reports that almost one-third of all boating fatalities are alcohol-related.

Before you head out on the water, know that there will be a strong police presence in throughout the area. The state is aggressive in pursuing convictions for these types of offenses. If you have been charged with boating under the influence, or arrested for drunk driving, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you with your case.

An attorney can review the facts of your specific situation, and help you decide on a defense that is best for you. Police and prosecutors are not looking out for you. No matter how helpful they seem, they are doing whatever they can to obtain a conviction. You need someone who is on your side, and focused on protecting your rights during this time.