Boaters beware during the 4th of July holiday weekend

By Justin Hanson - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Just last weekend, wildlife agents in 38 states began cracking down on boaters breaking the law.

It's part of a summer-long campaign called "Operation: Dry Water."  Authorities say if you are getting ready to hit the water this 4th of July weekend, you should be aware.

"Every year, people get hurt or killed by impaired boaters, and our job is to make sure that doesn't happen," said Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agent Jake Yoes.

Yoes is just one of hundreds of agents who will be out on area lakes and rivers this weekend.  They'll be checking to see if boaters have what they need to stay safe.

Boater Don Davis, who spends a lot of his free time on the Mississippi River, is glad officers are out keeping people safe.

"You better know what you're doing," he said. "It's large body of water, and if you don't have all the emergency gear, it can get you in."

Wildlife agents say one of the most common mis-conceptions is about boating and alcohol.  You can have an open container of alcohol in a boat, but the driver has to be sober.

"The legal limit is .08, just like it is for driving on the roads," Yoes said. "We look out and make sure there is one capable driver on the boat."

"Most of the boaters out here are pretty safe and respectful, and so you really don't have a lot of problems out here," Davis added.

In fact, Davis said, he's never had any problem on the Mississippi River.  But officials say those who are breaking the law will likely be arrested.

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