Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries advises boaters to stay safe this holiday weekend

Updated: Jul. 3, 2020 at 8:04 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is cracking down on impaired boaters, especially during the holiday weekend.

Senior agent Matthew Perkins said the department will intensify their boating patrols and checkpoints.

“We’ll be looking for compliance with boating safety regulations with an emphasis on impaired operations,” Perkins said.

The annual campaign, also known as “Operation Dry Water,” aims to keep boaters safe on the water. This year, there have been 12 boating accidents with fatalities across the state.

“Alcohol impairs a boater’s judgment, their balance, their vision, their reaction time,” Perkins said. “Intensifying effects of alcohol are the sun, wind, noise, vibration, and even movement which are all common to boating activity, so what may be two drinks for you on land may only be one drink for you on the water.”

The penalties for driving a boat under the influence are the same as a DWI on land. A first offense can include up to 6 months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

”Anyone cited for a DWI on the water will lose their driver’s license and their boating privileges, same fines apply,” Perkins said. “A DWI can be issued to anyone operating a moving vessel or vehicle while impaired.”

Perkins advised boaters to stay safe this holiday weekend.

“We really want to stress that people have sober operators this weekend, wear their PFDs, follow boating safety regulations and requirements and we will be out in full force in greater numbers this weekend to monitor this compliance,” Perkins said.

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