Look out for boaters under the influence

LAKE WAPPAPELLO, MO (KFVS) - Summertime means trips the lake with friends, but don't bring along the alcohol...at least not while you're driving.

Missouri Highway Patrol officers are joining a national campaign called "Operation Dry Water." It runs June 24-26, and is designed to cut down on boaters drinking.

Dave Nelson, a Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper with the Water Patrol Division, says a large number of the boating accidents and drownings they see are alcohol related.

"It's .08 on the water, just as it is on a highway," said Nelson.

Nelson says it's something they always patrol, the campaign, just increases the awareness.

According to Nelson, alcohol affects people t3 times faster on water, than on land. He says that's because of boating stressors like the heat, the waves, and the rocking of the boat.

"A lot of people don't realize that, because they think well if I can drink this much beer sitting in my living room, then I should be able to out on the water, and it's not that case," said Nelson.

Darren Davis takes his son fishing on Lake Wappapello. He says he thinks an emphasis on not drinking, while boating, is a good idea.

"When you put the jet skis, and the powerboats, and the pontoons, and the skis, tubes, all together on the same body of water and you put alcohol with it, it can get pretty bad, pretty quick," said Davis.

He says it's not necessarily the boaters that are choosing to drink that he's worried about, it's the passengers.

"Sometimes the people you see out here have a boat full of kids, and I'm sorry, but that's not right," said Davis.

But not everyone thinks it's a problem. George Bentrot visits the lake with his wife every year, and says he hasn't seen the issue.

"Some people could maybe get intoxicated, fall in and drown, but I never took it as being a problem," said Bentrot.

Whether people see the drinkers or not, law enforcement wants to crack down, so it doesn't become a problem.

"We want everybody to have a good time, but we want everybody to be safe," said Nelson.

Nelson suggests a designated driver, just like you would with a car.

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