BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Officials say in 2011, five out of the 36 boating accident deaths were caused by drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This year, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and other local law enforcement are determined to drive those numbers down during Operation Dry Water.
"The public is starting to get the point, and we're finding less and less. But that doesn't mean we're going to step down our patrols, and we're still going to find...if you're out there drinking and driving, we're going to find you," said Sergeant Randy Lanoux with Wildlife and Fisheries.
Sergeant Lanoux spent this weekend looking for offenders along the Amite River Diversion Canal. He says driving a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol puts you at risk of ending up in jail and at a higher risk of serious injury or death.
"The vibrations of the engine, the motions of the water, also the sun...it all enhances the effects of alcohol," said Lanoux. "So it effects you're impairment even more."
"We come out here a lot on the river, and I just see a lot of people, that I'm surprised, don't even know the basic rules of the river," said Mike Harrington, a boater. "And when you add alcohol to that it just even gets worse."
Those who realize how dangerous it is to drink and get behind the wheel ask that boaters think about the safety of those around them before they do it.
"It's okay to drink. Just don't drink and drive your boat. Have a designated driver," said Barry Lacy, another boater. "Have fun and be safe. Watch out for kids, watch out for ropes, watch out for everything in the waterways and be safe."
Sergeant Lanoux reminds boaters that this will not be the only weekend they patrol. He says Louisiana law enforcement agencies have a year round zero tolerance policy. Lanoux also encourages everyone to take a boater safety class before they get behind the wheel.