LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is beefing up patrols this weekend as part of a nationwide campaign, called "Operation Dry Water," to crack down on impaired boat operators.
"Summertime here in Southwest Louisiana, it's pretty much busy every weekend," said Remy Broussard with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. "We're looking for the obviously impaired boater, boaters that are doing things out of the ordinary."
In 2009, there were 32 fatalities stemming from boating incidents on the water in the state. Alcohol plays a role in seventeen percent of all boating fatalities.
"It's become a big factor in the number of fatalities in the state and in the number of collisions total," said Broussard.
Boaters who do break the law will face similar consequences as those driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol on the highways, including having their license revoked, jail time and expensive fines.
"The best advice I would give somebody is wear that life jacket. It's not going to work if you're not wearing it and second of all, don't drink on the water. It's very simple," said Broussard.
Boaters also need to be aware that starting on July 1st, anyone operating a vessel in excess of 10hp who was born after January 1, 1984, must complete a boaters safety education course. Wildlife and Fisheries agents will be checking.
For more information about Operation Dry Water, click here.
Additional information can be found at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department's website .