U.S. Coast Guard Enforcing Safe Contraband

May 6, 2007
Reported By: Lee Peck

For the U.S. Coast Guard it's just another day on Southwest Louisiana waters. Making their daily patrol of the Calcasieu Ship Channel and Intracoastal Waterway, they're eventually lured to Lake Charles.

"We're working with the local sheriff's office and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries to enforce boating safety regulations for Contraband Days," says Lieutenant Bo Bilbo.

For local law enforcement this is one of the busiest two weeks for water patrols as hundreds of boaters cruise the Lake Area to enjoy all that Contraband has to offer.

"We're out here boating and having fun with our family and friends," said Lake Charles resident Chantilly Smith.

"Everybody that owns a boat loves to come out and have something to do on the water and unfortunately in Lake Charles this is one of the few events where you can come use your boat and actually enjoy it on the water," said Phillip Guzzino.

For every boater that Contraband Days lures into the lake, they're all subject to random checks to make sure they're in compliance with state and federal regulations. When stopped boaters must have a license and proof of registration as well as enough life jackets for everyone on board.

"We'll look and make sure people have the proper number of life jackets, safety gear, proper equipment for their vessel," said Lt. Bilbo.

Smaller recreational vessels, such as wave runners, are also subject to stops. And while alcohol may be a part of the celebration, those driving under the influence will be arrested.

"It's not against the law to consume alcohol while on the water, but we do advise to be safe about it. Be responsible for it, but at the same time don't operate or drive your vessel."

So if you see the Coast Guard, don't be afraid to wave... After all they're enforcing safety on Southwest Louisiana waterways.

Lt. Bilbo says if you plan to go out on the water always bring enough life jackets for everyone in the boat, be aware of the weather, and bring a cell phone or leave word with someone on where you are going and how long you plan to be gone.