Missouri State Highway Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, NASBLA Join MADD at Lake of the Ozarks Ahead of Busy Boating Season

Osage Beach, Missouri — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators today launched MADD’s first-ever nationwide campaign aimed at eliminating the tragedies caused by boating under the influence.

The “Know Before You Boat” campaign promotes safe boating and educates about the dangers of operating a boat or watercraft while impaired by alcohol or other drugs. The inaugural kickoff was led by MADD National President Alex Otte, who was nearly killed by a drunk boater on July 2, 2010, when she was 13 years old.

“MADD wants everyone to understand that a boat is a vehicle, and that boating under the influence is driving under the influence. Impairment by alcohol or any other drugs on the water is extremely dangerous, and crashes like mine are 100% preventable,” Otte said. “If your plans include alcohol, please do so on shore AFTER you are finished boating for the day and have a non-drinking driver to get you to your next destination on land.”

Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is against federal law and most state laws.

“Missouri’s lakes and streams will welcome a lot of visitors this summer,” said Captain John J. Hotz, Missouri State Highway Patrol. “If you’re one of them, please choose to be a safe, sober boater. Alcohol impairs your motor skills and attention. You have a lot to lose with a boating while intoxicated arrest. Never operate a vessel under the influence of alcohol. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your passengers and the other boaters using our waterways.”

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is a leading known contributing factor in fatal boating incidents. Where the primary cause was known, alcohol was listed as the leading contributing factor in 18% of deaths in 2020.

“The Coast Guard will continue to support organizations like MADD and push the agenda to help eliminate how prominent boating under the influence is,” said Lt. Ellis James, Enforcement Chief of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River. “Just one fatality from an operator under the influence is too many.”

A boater is likely to become impaired more quickly than an automobile driver, and even moderate drinking can cause significant impairment on the water. The environmental stressors of the marine environment – motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind, and spray – accelerate the impairing effect of alcohol. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boater’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when consuming alcohol.

“NASBLA is honored to be partnering with MADD to educate and inform boat operators and passengers about the dangers of boating while impaired,” said Lt. Kenton Turner, chair of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. “NASBLA works year-round to increase awareness of the risks associated with impaired boating and to facilitate heightened enforcement of boating under the influence laws through our partnerships and campaigns such as this. The tragic injuries and deaths attributed to impaired boating are preventable incidents and we all need to do our part to keep them from happening. We encourage boaters to do this by keeping alcohol and drugs off the water completely, preventing what happened to Alex from happening to someone else.”

MADD supports our water safety partners in reminding all boaters to boat responsibly on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, attach the engine cut-off switch, get a free vessel safety check, and never drink and boat.

For more information, visit madd.org/bui.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

###