MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) – With temperatures in the 70s this weekend, lots of people are headed to the lake. But police officers say be forewarned now: they are also heading to the lake this weekend. They target the weekends before July 4 to the send a message – they have zero tolerance for boating under the influence.
Officers will be looking for boaters whose blood alcohol content is at or over the .08 limit. It’s a level that’s easier to reach than some boaters may think.
Captain Greg Salo says that gradual drinking is most troublesome for boaters.
“It’s far worse to start off slow and go all day long consuming alcohol, you may not think you are consuming much, but it builds up in your body, and that’s where people really get into trouble,” said Salo.
In Minnesota, alcohol was involved in half of the 16 boating deaths last year. One of the more heavily patrolled lakes is Lake Minnetonka.
Dave Schutt is out on Minnetonka a couple times a week. He says he favors fishing to partying. Schutt chooses his times to be on the water, thinking strictly of safety due to the heavy summertime lake traffic that’s to come.
“Usually, I’m on the water early in the morning, off by 10 o’clock, and then I don’t come on until 6, 7 o’clock, and then off after dark,” he said.
Schutt tries to avoid peak times of poor judgment. Captain Greg Salo says that affects more than just drivers.
“We see a big problem with alcohol and drownings, people forget to wear their life jackets or think they can do more than they can,” said Salo.
Schutt says he fully supports the crackdown, and appreciates the effort to keep the lake he calls home safe.
“It’s not out to get anybody, it’s to make everybody safer. That’s what they’re there for,” said Schutt.