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Louisiana boating safety and increased DWI enforcements

According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 36 people died last year in boating crashes, and five of those deaths could be attributed to alcohol use. National statistics reveal in 2011 that 16 percent of all boating accident fatalities were directly related to the use of drugs or alcohol. That same year, the LDWF issued a total of 108 DWI citations to boat operators, ten of which were issued over one weekend dubbed Operation Dry Water.

This year, Operation Dry Water, which ran June 22nd through the 24th, resulted in five DWI citations. The administrator of Louisiana's boating laws said the department takes DWI enforcement on the water very seriously because the leading cause of boating fatalities is alcohol. It is no different than operating a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and in the state of Louisiana a DWI on the water carries the same fines and penalties as it does for operating a motor vehicle while impaired.

And just like in a case of drunk driving resulting in injury or death in a car accident, a person who operates a boat recklessly or negligently can also be sued for damages. Personal injury claims are rather common in car accident cases and injuries suffered in a boating accident are no different. A person who has others in his or her care, such as a boat or vehicle, and acts in an irresponsible or reckless manner causing injury can be held liable for damages that result from that negligence.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries wants everyone to have a good time on the water, but also be aware of the rules and play it safe by designating a sober driver if you plan on imbibing in alcoholic beverages. The penalties for receiving a DWI can be far more severe than just losing your license and paying the requisite fines. If you are lucky enough to live, you may also have to live with the knowledge that you permanently changed someone else's life, and not for the better.

Source: 3 KATV TV, "Boaters cited for DWI, including Kaplan man," June 25, 2012

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