Marathon County Sheriff’s Office to watch for drunk boaters this holiday weekend

Law enforcement are increasing boat patrols this holiday weekend.
Law enforcement are increasing boat patrols this holiday weekend.(WSAW)
Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 6:44 PM CDT
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MARATHON COUNTY, Wis. (WSAW) - You might see more patrols out on the water in Marathon County in the next few days. It’s part of an effort to make sure people aren’t drinking and driving on the water.

Operation Dry Water is a national push to keep people sober on the water. The Marathon County Sheriff's Office says alcohol is the top factor that contributes to accidents and death while boating.

“There is a very strong correlation between fatal accidents especially and drinking and boating,” said Deputy Michael Van Offeren, recreational safety deputy for the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputy Van Offeren says drinking one can of beer on a boat is like drinking three cans on land.

“While you’re out on the water, your body is using a lot more of its energy to maintain its balance, you’re out under the sun and getting dehydrated via the sun,” he said.

The national effort is led by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). It’s not just the sheriff’s department keeping an eye out.

“The sheriff’s office is working with the DNR who’s leading this with the U.S. Coast Guard. And we’ll be out there coordinating with those two other entities,” he said.

Van Offeren says there’s a way to stay safe and still have fun. He recommends designating one person to stay sober and drive.

"They can drink, as long as they don't get to the point where they are impaired, or to the point where they are above that 0.08 limit. If you see us, wave, say hi, we aren't going to be out there to get you unless we see something dangerous going on," he said.

The Portage County Sheriff’s Department says they’ll also be participating in Operation Dry Water by having extra patrols looking for drunk boaters July 3rd through July 5th.

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