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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police advise Don’t drink and boat on Delaware waterways

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Contact: Cpl. John McDerby, Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902. 

To make it a safer Memorial holiday weekend, DNREC
Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police advise:
Don’t drink and boat on Delaware waterways

DOVER (May 21, 2015) – For the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind boaters that drinking and boating don’t mix – and that boat operators with blood alcohol levels of .08 or higher risk facing charges for operating under the influence (OUI), as well as putting themselves, their passengers and other boaters in Delaware waters at risk. 

“Just like driving a road vehicle, operating a boat with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher is in violation of Delaware and federal laws,” said Cpl. John McDerby of F&W Natural Resources Police, noting that marine patrols are increased over the holiday weekend to ensure safe boating and public safety. “Boat operators found at or above the legal limit will find their voyage terminated, will be arrested and may have their vessel impounded. Boat operators under the influence also can face fines and potential jail time.” 

According to national statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol use is a leading contributing factor to fatal boating accidents. Of the 610 boating-related fatalities reported on the nation’s waterways in 2014, 21 percent were caused by alcohol or drug intoxication. Nationally in 2014, 277 accidents involved alcohol use and resulted in 108 deaths and 248 injuries. 

“Drinking while boating is a choice. The best way to minimize the risk of an accident is to make the wiser choice – don’t drink and boat,” said Cpl. McDerby. “Environmental stressors aboard a boat – such as constant motion, heat, sun glare and dehydration – all enhance the effects of any amount of alcohol. Because of this, we strongly recommend that boat operators not consume alcohol, and we encourage having a non-drinking designated boat operator.”  

Other tips for recreational boaters to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend include:

·         Exercise patience and courtesy at crowded boat ramps and docks.

·         Observe all Slow No Wake areas.

·         Maintain a lookout for other vessels and keep a safe distance from them.

·         Avoid traveling at unsafe speeds, especially in congested areas.

·         Make sure children 12 and younger are wearing life jackets while underway as required by law.

·         Wear your life jacket and encourage all your passengers 13 and older to wear them also.

·         Check navigation lights and make sure to turn them on when operating at night.

·         Carry your boating safety certificate and required safety equipment, including enough life jackets for everyone aboard; a fire extinguisher, and a whistle.

·         Paddle boards are considered vessels, and passengers are required to have a life jacket on board and carry a whistle or other sound-producing device. If out after sunset, a flashlight is also required.

For access to the online Delaware Boating Handbook and other safe boating information, please click Delaware Boating Safety, or contact Delaware Boating Safety Coordinator Cpl. John McDerby at 302-739-9913 or email

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting and boating laws and regulations. Citizens are encouraged to report fish and wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at 

Vol. 45, No. 164

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