FWC Cracks Down Memorial Day Weekend on Drinking While Boating

By: Jerry Askin Email
By: Jerry Askin Email

Fisherman and boaters like Chris Johnson will be hitting the coast this Memorial Day Weekend. Johnson says he'll have fun, but more importantly be safe.

"They shouldn't drink because they put themselves at risk and they put others at risk," says Johnson.

Johnson wasn't operating the boat today. He understands the consequences of drinking while driving a boat.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officers say in 2009, 26% of all fatal boating accidents involved alcohol or drug use. Overall, there were 620 boating accidents in the state.

FWC officials say they will be out here in the water patrolling this weekend, to make sure everyone is safe and not drinking while operating a boat.

FWC Lieutenant Scott Pearce says, "Although it's not a violation to have an open container on a vessel, it is a violation to be impaired and whoever is operating the vessel needs to be very responsible."

Even restaurant workers in Franklin County are encouraging folks to be safe.

"Definitely have a designated driver, know your limit and if anything don't bring alochol out on the boat if you can," says Josh Coleman who works at the Tiki Bar in Alligator Point.

Stephen Bassett told us about a tragic boating accident he witnessed a few years ago. He says a woman who'd been drinking got behind the wheel of a boat in Jacksonville.

"After enough drinks, he finally let her drive and she ended up running into a barge and killing everybody," says Bassett.

Florida had more boating accidents in 2009 than any other state.

Officers are hoping no one will die on the waters this holiday weekend.

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