In support of Operation Dry Water, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) arrested 10 boaters statewide for driving or operating a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) from Friday, June 24 to Sunday, June 26.
In the northern part of the state agents arrested Michael Smith, 34, of Jonesville, on Bushley Bayou in Catahoula Parish on June 25; Eric Bates Jr., 22, of Bernice, on Corney Lake in Claiborne Parish on June 24; and Bryon Breedlove, 26, of Shreveport, on the Red River in Bossier Parish on June 26.
Agents arrested Lyle Laussade III, 22, of Ponchatoula, on the Tickfaw River on June 25; David Goodale, 43, of Walker, on the Tickfaw River on June 25; Brian Hernandez, 49, of Baton Rouge, on the Amite River/Diversion Canal on June 25; and Chad Panepinto, 27, of Hammond, on the Tickfaw River on June 26 in the eastern part of the state.
In the southern part of the state agents arrested Kevin Davis, 54, of Texas, on the Belle River in St. Martin Parish on June 25; Lance LeBlanc, 23, of Bourg, on the Intracoastal Canal in Terrebonne Parish; and Dwight Landry, 56, of Breaux Bridge, in Henderson Bay in St. Martin Parish on June 25.
“We take DWI enforcement on the water very serious since the leading cause of boating fatalities is alcohol,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, the state’s boating law administrator. “We want everybody on the water to have a good time, but to keep in mind that they need a designated driver just like on land.”
Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications.
Louisiana had 32 fatalities from boating crash incidents in 2009. Alcohol was again the leading primary cause of those boating fatal incidents leading to 24 percent of the fatalities. Nationwide, statistics from 2009 reveal that 16 percent of all boat incident fatalities were a direct result of alcohol or drug use.
LDWF agents issued 216 DWI citations to boat operators in 2009. Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver’s license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case. Also, each offense of operating a vehicle or vessel while intoxicated counts toward the total number of DWI crimes whether they happened on the water or road.
In Louisiana, a DWI on the water carries the same penalties and fines as on the road and includes jail time, fines and loss of driving and boating operator privileges.
In Louisiana a DWI can be issued to anyone operating a moving vessel or vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. First offense DWI carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Second offense DWI brings a $750 to $1,000 fine and between 30 days and six months in jail. Third offense DWI carries a $5,000 fine and between one and five years in jail.
Operation Dry Water was started in 2009 and is a joint program involving LDWF, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the U.S. Coast Guard. More information is available at www.operationdrywater.org.
Adam Einck [email protected]