Officials spread awareness for safe boating as summer approaches

Officials spread awareness for safe boating as summer approaches

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - As summer approaches, more and more boats are heading out to the lakes and beaches of Southwest Louisiana.

But before you put your boat in the water, there are some things you need to check.

In addition to checking for holes that could cause water on your vessel and having life vests for everyone on board, different sizes and engines on boats mean different laws you need to follow.

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department Sgt. Stuart Guillory said, "Make sure that you understand the size of the boat that you're operating and the specific laws that pertain to that boat."

One of the main citations Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officials find themselves writing are for people sitting on the bow of the boat.

Not only is it illegal, but Guillory says it's dangerous.

"There's things under the water we can't see; it's nature out on these waterways, so there may be something under the water that floated down, like a branch or a tree. Something could hit the boat, and if someone's riding on the front, it jars the boat and the person flies out of the boat and the boat keeps going," Guillory said. "Then it strikes that person and can cause bad damage to the person, or be fatal."

Another concern is operating a boat while intoxicated.

Although it's illegal for safety reasons, drinking while out on the water could affect you on land as well.

Guillory says, "In Louisiana, operating a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol is under the same law as operating a vehicle, so if you get a DWI, that's going to affect your privileges for driving and your license will get suspended."

To operate a boat in Louisiana, there are licenses you need to study and apply for.

You can follow this link: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses to apply for a license.

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