This weekend as thousands of Michiganders hit the lakes and waterways for the 4th of July weekend, they'll have company as Michigan DNR officers will be out in force to crack down on those who are boating drunk.

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Every July Fourth holiday, conservation officers participate in Operation Dry Water, a national law enforcement campaign that promotes sober boating. As part of the effort, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers anticipate a busy Fourth of July holiday celebration on the water and encourage boaters to enjoy the water responsibly.

DNR Officers Patrol Michigan Waterways | 📷 Michigan DNR
Boaters enjoying Michigan Waterways | 📷 Michigan DNR

Last year the DNR says that during the 2020 4th of July weekend a boater was found to have nearly three times the legal limit of alcohol in their system while operating a watercraft. That level, .20, is well above Michigan's legal limit of .08. In Michigan, it is illegal to operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A person is operating illegally when they have a controlled substance in their system and/or their blood alcohol content is .08% or above, the same as operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Lt. Brandon Kieft, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor in Roscommon, said boaters can expect to see conservation officers monitoring water activities in areas that are traditionally known to gather large crowds – such as Higgins Lake and Torch Lake, both located in the Lower Peninsula.

“Boaters can have a good time and enjoy the resources, but they are expected to drink responsibly and operate safely,” Kieft said.

For the latest information on boating safety, regulations, harbors, boat launches, high water and more, visit

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