By Kevin Tate
Conservation officers in north and central Mississippi wrote a total of 54 citations and made four arrests for boating under the influence last weekend as part of Operation Dry Water, a nationally coordinated effort for water safety.
“We are dedicated to keeping boaters safe on the water,” said Maj. Jerry Carter, with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. “Boating is a safe and enjoyable pastime when people stay alert and follow boating regulations.
“We wanted boaters and fishermen to have a safe and enjoyable boating weekend, and Operation Dry Water is an annual event that gives us a chance to make a push for both safety and education. It increases visibility and reminds everyone we’re out there. We take pride in working to promote safety, reduce accidents and prevent fatalities.”
Of the four arrests and citations for boating under the influence, one took place on the Mississippi River in Bolivar County and the others were in the main harbor of the Ross Barnett Reservoir. Those operating a boat on Mississippi’s waters are held to the same standards of sobriety as those operating a vehicle on Mississippi’s roads.
“We tell our boaters, just like those driving a vehicle, if you’re going to drink, don’t drive,” Carter said. “Have a designated driver, an experienced boater who’s not drinking along to operate the vessel.”
The other citations were written for offenses including no boat registration, no or an insufficient number of personal flotation devices, no observers while towing a water skier and other infractions.
In all, 80 conservation officers patrolled the state’s major inland waters as part of the Operation Dry Water effort. Carter said the state’s participation in the annual event does significant good.
“Boating education is mandatory for anyone who wants to operate a boat in Mississippi and who was born on or after June 30, 1980,” Carter said, “but our work with efforts like Operation Dry Water serves as a reminder for boaters of every age.”