Georgia DNR patrols waterways for troublesome boaters

DNR law enforcement says they don't mind people drinking while out on the water as long as there's a designated driver

Boating: It's a popular pastime for Southwest Georgians on the Fourth of July. As in years past, many took to the water to celebrate Independence Day this year, but Georgia Department of Natural Resources wants people to celebrate safely.

Over the weekend, DNR Law Enforcement patrolled the waters.

"We're looking for people to follow our safe boating laws, safe boating regulations. We want to make sure everybody comes out here, has a great time on Georgia's waterways, but that they leave safe and they all leave together," says Cpl. Scott Carroll with Georgia DNR.

One of their main concerns and common issues are life jackets.

"We want to make sure that the children are wearing them. Anybody under the age of 10 in the state of Georgia while a vessel is moving must be wearing a proper sized, proper fitted BFD and we want to make sure those kids are taken care of first," says Carroll.

The second concern for Georgia DNR: boating under the influence.

There is no open container law for the waterways, according to DNR Law Enforcement, but they were enforcing zero tolerance for those drinking and boating on July 4th. Those found boating under the influence were arrested immediately over the holiday weekend.

If people had a designated driver, DNR had no problems with them.

"We know we're going to see it, we know it's out here and that's fine. We expect people to come out here and have a good time, and if they feel like they need to bring they're alcohol with them that's okay as long as they have a designated driver," says Carroll. "We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to operating a vessel under the influence, and we are going to enforce it. As long as everyone comes out here, brings a little bit of good common sense with them, gets a designated driver, they won't have any problems with us."

DNR officials say while they're patrolling the water, it's not so much about enforcing as it is about educating boaters.

"A lot of people are not completely aware of all of our regulations because this is a recreational type of law enforcement that we're involved in so a lot of people aren't aware of everything they've got to have when they bring their boat out," says Carroll.

Overall, DNR law enforcement says they have a great group of boaters in Albany's waterways.

"We have a good crowd out here in Albany; we have a real good crowd of people. We've got a lot of folks that use some good common sense, they try to act the way they're supposed to, we've got a good safe crowd out here," says Carroll.

So far, DNR says there haven't been major or significant boating accidents this summer, and they are proud of that.

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