INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — State and county officials are upping marine patrols this weekend on Lake Tahoe in hopes of cutting back on drunken boating.
Game wardens with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, along with officials with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and National Park Service at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, will target boaters as part of a nationally coordinated enforcement effort called “Operation Dry Water.”
While patrols will pick up at waterways across the state, extra efforts are being poured into the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe from June 27-29, officials said Wednesday.
“We say it many times, drunken boating is dangerous,” said Capt. David Pfiffner, Nevada’s Boating Law Administrator. “People who operate under the influence are just as likely to kill an innocent bystander as him or herself, so stay sober while on the water.”
Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion — stressors common to the boating environment — intensify side effects of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications, he said.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 17 percent of all boat accident fatalities since 2008 were a direct result of alcohol or drug use.
“As recreational activity on Lake Tahoe increases, so must our efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence,” Washoe County Undersheriff Tim Kuzanek said in a statement. “Participating in Operation Dry Water allows us to become part of an enormous multi-agency effort to make the waters safer for everyone who wants to enjoy this beautiful gem of the Sierra.”
The Coast Guard recommends the following tips for safe boating:
Never boat under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication.
Always wear a life jacket. Eighty-five percent of people who’ve drowned in a recreational boating accident were not wearing a life jacket.
Take a boating safety course. In accidents when the operator’s instruction history was known, 73 percent of fatalities occurred on a boat operated by someone without receiving boating instruction.
Get a free vessel check every year. These checks reveal life-threatening problems even on vessels owned by safe, responsible boaters.
Operation Dry Water, launched in 2009, is a joint program of NDOW, the Coast Guard and National Association of State Boating Law Administrators Learn more at www.operationdrywater.org.