Drunken boating arrests in Iowa at record high - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Drunken boating arrests in Iowa at record high

As of Friday, the Iowa DNR had cited 88 people so far this year with Boating While Intoxicated. As of Friday, the Iowa DNR had cited 88 people so far this year with Boating While Intoxicated.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has seen a record number of arrests for drunken boating this year. As of Friday, 88 people had been cited for operating a boat with a blood alcohol content level above the legal limit of .08 percent. By comparison, in all of 2011, the DNR cited just 54 people with a BWI.

Andrew Keil is a state conservation officer with the Iowa DNR. He said that high number is likely due to increased officer training in what to look for and stepped up enforcement. He also said the drought presented more sunny weekends than the average summer gets, so more boaters have been out on the water.

This dry weather has been bad for farmers, but Dubuque couple and avid boaters Bob and Jan Haverland haven't minded it.

"These weather conditions affect one person but make another person happy, and you have to take the goods with the bads," Jan Haverland said.

"The river people, obviously, when the hotter it is, it makes us happier," her husband added.

The Haverlands were cruising the Mississippi River Sunday in their Four Winns Vista Cruiser. In fact, they get out on the river every chance they get.

"I'm a water lover. I gave up water at one point in my life and I was determined I'd never give it up again," Jan Haverland said.

The two of them were boaters long before they tied the knot nearly 21 years ago.

"We actually have had boats all our lives," Jan Haverland said.

However, not everybody on the water is as experienced or safe.

"Nothing more than being safe," Bob Haverland said. "It can get you in trouble real quick. You got to respect this river."

Keil said, as of Friday, the total number of boating incidents this year was 27, and nine people have died in boating-related incidents. He said the bulk of the incidents happened earlier in the summer.

Low river levels right now create a hazard, too.

"There's a lot of areas right now, I mean, some of the marinas and the harbors, and they're very difficult to get to with the water so low. You've got to be very careful," Bob Haverland said. "Fortunately, a lot of the river bottom is mud and dirt and sand, so it's not really going to ruin your propeller - or your prop - but, basically, it slows you down a little bit."

He said boaters staying in the marked main channel should have no problems with low water.

Aside from getting arrested for boating while intoxicated, boaters can also get cited for not having enough or the right kind of safety gear, including life jackets and a working horn.

The number of BWI arrests may increase after the Labor Day weekend counts come in. However, there are fewer than 80 state conservation officers with the Iowa DNR, and with several hunting seasons opening this weekend, they're spread a little more thin than they normally are.

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