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DULUTH - Summers in Minnesota mean boating, and for many boating and drinking go hand-in-hand.
However, officials say you might want to think twice before hitting the water.
“An open bottle of alcohol under Minnesota law currently is legal, it’s just the operator and the captain that’s responsible for his crew,” Sgt. Keith Olson, of the MN DNR, said.
A responsibility, Russell Urevig takes very seriously.
“You need to be aware of people on your boat. You’re responsible for them completely, you’re responsible for any of the actions your boat takes,” Russell Urevig, a boat captain, said.
He’s the captain of the 36 foot carver, Close Enuf, and is proud of what his boat can do.
“It’s got twin 454 engines in it. It cruises about 21 mph, it weighs about 16,000 pounds, it has 620 horse power in it,” Urevig said.
However, he knows it’s not all fun and games.
“If you want to party and drink, you do it responsibly when you’re not behind the wheel of the boat,” Urevig said.
Just as with driving, operating a boat with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher is against the law.
“Everybody knows drinking and driving is dangerous, but boating and driving is just as dangerous,” Ethan Miller, a U.S. Coast Guard, said.
The MN DNR said in 2012, alcohol was a contributing factor in 33 percent of the deadly boating accidents in Minnesota and officials have a zero tolerance policy.
“Danger can come from 360 degrees. You’re out in the wind, you’re out in the sun, and that alone, as environmental stressors, you add alcohol and if makes the perfect storm,” Keith Olson, a MN DNR officer, said.
Last year, 158 people were arrested for BWI in Minnesota.