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New initiative aims to educate on boating and drinking dangers

Several boats line the waters of Lake Oahe, one of the largest reservoirs on the Missouri River.
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Several boats line the waters of Lake Oahe, one of the largest reservoirs on the Missouri River.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving and South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks are teaming up to spread awareness about the dangers of operating boats and all-terrain vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

This partnership aims to educate within South Dakota communities, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving Regional Executive Director Veronica Hawman.

“We’ve had volunteers in South Dakota in the past, but since 2022, that has been our first year having a staff member in South Dakota,” Hawman said. “So, that’s helped us increase our capacity with being able to build relationships with different agencies there and really learn what’s going on in the ground.”

Hawman said the partnership will work to spread awareness through email, social media posts, educational cards and a press conference in June.

The U.S. Coast Guard recognizes alcohol as a leading contributing factor in fatal boating incidents. Environmental stressors including motion, sun and engine noise cause boaters to become more impaired than when on land, even when moderately drinking, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

In South Dakota, it is illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.

“I just want people to remember [to] really just be mindful of the point that a boat is also a vehicle,” Hawman said. “So, they need to be very careful in choosing not to drink and operate a boat.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has a victim hotline for anyone impacted by drinking and driving, which can be reached at 1-877-623-3435.

Elizabeth is an intern with South Dakota Public Broadcasting.