Wildlife and Fisheries prepares for Operation Dry Water Weekend - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Wildlife and Fisheries prepares for Operation Dry Water Weekend

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Departments are gearing up for their Operation Dry Water campaign starting tomorrow.

This is the third year for the Dry Water campaign by Wildlife and Fisheries. The campaign focuses on preventing boaters from drinking and driving on the water. When it comes to drinking laws on the water, they're not much different than the laws of the road.

Sergeant David Sanford, a 14-year agent, says the goal is to find boat drivers under the influence and get them off the water.

"It's basic public safety, for everyone around you as well as the persons that are onboard the vessel with you," said Sanford. "It's a danger to the public and we just don't need it."

Wildlife and Fisheries will increase their patrol this weekend, and Sanford says if you're suspected of drinking and driving, the procedure on the water and the road are the same.

"The standardized field sobriety tests that we do, just like say a trooper would do on the highway, we do it here," said Sanford. "We bring them back to the dock and do it there, if we find that that person fails the field sobriety, we transport them to the Sheriff's Office." 

Also the same as a DUI on the road, are the consequences.

"The penalties are the same," said Sanford. "You get your license revoked. Your boat's subject to be towed. It's absolutely no different than driving down interstate ten."

Agents also do boating safety checks to ensure safety of everyone on the boat. Sanford says there's also been an increasing problem with a law passed three years ago.

"People are either just not abiding by it or they're just not aware of it," said Sanford.

Boats must operate no faster than an idle speed within 300 feet of any boat launch or boat dock.

"We have boat launches on the Calcasieu River, several of them that the people are still operating on step within 300 feet of them," said Sanford. "It's a big problem."

Sanford says agents will continue to patrol those areas, and ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

"Regardless if there's signs or buoys or anything there or not, it is still the law," said Sanford.

The Wildlife agents will also be watching for jet skis. Sanford says careless operation is a big problem with people on jet skis because they ride to close to other jet skis or boats, like jumping boat wakes.

Sanford also warns boat operators: if your license is suspended in a vehicle, you cannot legally drive a boat.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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