CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Leaving the alcohol at home may be the best option for boating safety, but following simple DNR rules will also suffice.

With the summer heat, people are likely to spend time out on the water enjoying some drinks with friends and family, but it is important to keep safety in mind when operating motor vehicles like boats, according to Ed Goodson, DNR’s Boater Education Administrator.

“Motor boating, recreational boating, very very similar to driving your vehicle,” he said last week on WAJR-Clarksburg’s “The Gary Bowden Show.”

According to Goodson, it is not illegal to consume alcoholic beverages while out on the water, but there are some things to keep in mind — including city ordinances that may prohibit open containers and regulations for alcohol consumption on federally owned lakes and waterways.

“Its your business to know where you can and can’t possess alcohol on that, but the others, its no issue to have an alcoholic beverage,” he said. “But that skipper, that driver over the boat, the captain, has got to remain sober, and again, the motor boating BAC limit is .08.”

The DNR conducts patrols throughout the summer to enforce boating under the influence (BUI) protection and prevention. Reasons for stopping boats consist of:

  • Passengers acting recklessly
  • Boat’s registration is out of date
  • Life-jacket violations

When boats are stopped for one of the above offenses, officers check for check for safety equipment and talk to the operator of the boat. If the operator seems to be impaired by drugs or alcohol, further measures will be taken.

“That’s a bad recipe when you add a large motorboat and you add alcohol with that,” Goodson said. “Alcohol, drugs, whatever.”

Goodson suggests that the easiest solution would be to leave the alcohol at home.

“You’re out there on the water, you’re having alcohol in the hot sun,” he said. “You’re not drinking water, you’re dehydrated. You’ve got a lot to take care of, you’ve got all those passengers on board, you’re watching for other boats. Let me tell you what: after five, six, seven hours of that, you tend to get tired and your faculties fail and you can’t pay as close attention as you need to be.

“So I’d take one of those problems out of the mix. I’d take alcohol out of the mix.”

Goodson also encourages that all passengers that plan to go boating learn the operations of the boats in the case of an impaired operator or a medical emergency.

All persons such as jet skiers and tubers are required to wear proper fitting life-jackets at all times. Children under the age of 12 must wear a life-jacket while the boat is in motion. Operators of boats must also have properly-fitting life jackets for every passenger on board.

“We want you to have a good time, we just want you to do it safely,” Goodson said.

Story by Hannah Williams

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