Conservation officers focus on drunken boaters as part of national campaign

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Indiana Conservation officers will be on the lookout for intoxicated boat operators this weekend as part of a national awareness campaign that stresses the importance of choosing a designated driver.

The campaign is called Operation Dry Water.

“There are going to be a lot of families and a lot of kids playing,” said Deb Satterfield, a boater on the Geist Reservoir who said she does worry about intoxicated boat operators.

Conservation officers will be checking boats for up to date registration and life vests if there is cause for concern. Popular areas often referred to as “cocktail coves” will get particular scrutiny.

“We’re at roughly 20 drownings this year, and we want to curb that. Last year, we were down from the previous year, and we would like to hope that this campaign contributed to that,” said Bill Doss, an Indiana conservation officer.

This weekend last year, conservation officers recorded blood alcohol levels as high as .168 and .237.

The Indiana State Police are partnering with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to catch drunken boaters who may otherwise slip through the cracks.

“They’re driving drunk on the road as well so state police troopers will be around the marinas to enforce those laws,” said Doss.

The Fishers Police Department and Fishers Fire Department will be on Geist Reservoir this weekend as well to enforce local ordinances.