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Law enforcement: 'If you are going to have a few drinks, just don't boat'

Thousands of boats are expected to pack Lake Minnetonka this holiday weekend, which history has shown can bring dangers to the waterway.

MINNETONKA, Minn. — As the Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson puts it, Lake Minnetonka is one of the best known recreational lakes in the country. Top that off with the pent-up pandemic party fever, and you're looking at one big, busy boater weekend.

But just know law enforcement will be out in full force. 

Thousands of boats are expected to pack Lake Minnetonka this holiday weekend, which history has shown can bring dangers to the waterway.

"In years past, we've run from emergency to emergency, whether it's overheating, too much alcohol, prop injuries…boats running in to each other," said Arnaud Kpachavi, with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "We will likely see all that this weekend."

So the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, DNR, Minnesota State Patrol and other agencies are teamed up for Operation Dry Water – a national campaign to curb drinking and boating.

"We are going to have about five times more deputies on the lakes and rivers," said Hennepin County Sheriff Hutchinson. "I can't say it enough, If you are going to have a few drinks, just don't boat."

RELATED: DNR, doctors issue warnings over recent water-related deaths

"There won't be any warnings this weekend," said Lt. Adam Block with the DNR. "If you're operating a boat under the influence, you'll be arrested and taken to jail."

If convicted, licenses for all vehicles – land or water – will be revoked.

When on the water, anyone 18 and older can drive. Those between the ages of 12 and 17 need an operator's permit to drive, or have someone at least 21 years old right next to them.

The boat needs life jackets for each person on board, and children 10 and under need to wear their life jacket at all time, unless anchored.

When on a personal watercraft (PWC) or jet ski, drivers between the ages of 13 and 17 need a permit to operate and life jackets must be worn at all times. And if you're towing a tube, a spotter is required.

"Use common sense, have fun, don't drink and drive, and we will all be good to go," said Sheriff Hutchinson.

RELATED: Organizations hand out free life jackets at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis amid water safety push

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