You Booze, You Lose: ODNR Encourages Sober Boating This Holiday Weekend

Operation Dry Water encourages Ohioans to avoid the dangers of alcohol and boating

COLUMBUS, Ohio – There’s a lot of fun to be had this July Fourth holiday weekend, but the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is reminding Ohioans that there is also a lot to lose.  ODNR will join other law enforcement agencies participating in the national Operation Dry Water campaign, a push for sober boating.

“Alcohol and boating do not mix, and we want to make sure everyone on the water is safe,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said.  “More people will be out this weekend, and you can ensure everyone gets home safely by following a few simple rules- no alcohol and making sure everyone wears a life jacket.”

Operation Dry Water (ODW) Across is a national boating under the influence awareness campaign from the National Safe Boating Council.  It encourages boaters to be aware of the dangers of alcohol and boating. Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is the leading cause of injuries and fatalities on the nation’s waterways.

“Our mission is to ensure that everyone on the water has a safe and enjoyable experience,” says Tim Dunleavy, chair of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. “This means that all operators and passengers should choose to boat sober all season long.”

Not only is BUI dangerous for the driver, but it is dangerous for passengers as well. Intoxicated passengers pose the risk of slipping or falling into the water and other life-threatening incidents. Some simple ways you can practice responsible boating include wearing a life jacket on the water, holding your party responsible, and knowing Ohio’s boating laws.

In 2021, law enforcement officers contacted 328,627 boaters and made 638 BUI arrests over the course of the three-day weekend. As the holiday approaches, keep in mind boating under the influence is illegal in all states.

To learn more about sober boating and Ohio’s boating laws and to view or download the Ohio’s Boaters Guide, click here.

The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft provides exceptional outdoor recreation and boating opportunities by balancing outstanding customer service, education, and conservation of Ohio’s 75 state parks and waterways.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at

Information courtesy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources