mostlycloudy
Sunday May 24th, 2015 3:26PM

DNR pushes "sober boaters," other safety measures

By Staff
GAINESVILLE - Memorial Day weekend marks the official start of the summer boating season, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is emphasizing the importance of safety for all those who plan on boating in the coming weeks.

Captain Thomas Barnard with the DNR said the agency is expecting a large amount of boating traffic this holiday weekend, especially on Lakes Lanier and Hartwell. Barnard explained the DNR will be increasing their manpower accordingly.

"This weekend, every officer with DNR will be working; no one is off," he said. "For Lake Lanier, we will be having 6 patrol boats on the water, and Lake Hartwell, we'll be using 4 patrol boats."

DNR crews will be patrolling Georgia waters to enforce all laws related to boating, but Barnard said preventing boaters from operating their vessel while intoxicated will be a point of emphasis for officers.

"We will be out in force looking for those operators that are impaired across the state, especially on Lanier and Hartwell, in order to keep those bodies of water safe," he added.

Intoxicated boaters are a continual problem that faces the agency, and DNR officials have in recent years taken to educating boaters as well as prosecuting those who break the law.

"As we stop vessels, officers will also be, from an educational standpoint, handing out our boater handbook," Barnard said. "And this particular handbook describes in detail all the state law that covers the boating environment as well as safety tips."

Barnard said that, with many boaters imbibing alcohol as they celebrate on the lake, there is a simple way to avoid trouble, and it is a method that the DNR wholly endorses: "We've been, over the last two years, pushing from a media standpoint, as well as an educational standpoint, to designate a driver for the day."

These so-called "sober boaters" not only satisfy the legal requirements for boating, Barnard said, but also provide a reliable, responsible party should any other individuals choose to drink on-board.

"Just designate that driver for the day," he continued. "There is no open container law on the boat, so folks on-board can drink as long as that driver is sober."

Barnard said while there are certain safety requirements that boaters need to be aware of, such as the law requiring any child under the age of 14 to "wear a personal flotation device, or life jacket, while the boat is in motion," simply maintaining a level of focus and determination while boating can go a long way to preventing any potential issues.

"It's just like driving on the road," he said. "You have to be vigilant of your surroundings, keep an eye on other boaters, as well as those that you have on board."

Memorial Day weekend 2014 begins Friday, May 23, and runs through Monday, May 26.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 4 months ago )
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 4 months ago )
Sheriff: Man shot 2 on I-85 because he wanted car
A 22-year-old man shot two people who stopped to give him a ride on Interstate 85 in South Carolina on Christmas Eve because he wanted their car to drive to Georgia, a sheriff said Wednesday.
5:21PM ( 4 months ago )
Local/State News
Boat Sinks near Van Pugh Park
A boat sank near Van Pugh Park Sunday. 7 persons were on board. There were no injuries.
2:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
Body pulled from Chattahoochee River in Forsyth Co.
Forsyth County authorities have confirmed that the body of an unidentified person was pulled from the Chattahoochee River late Saturday afternoon.
7:58AM ( 7 hours ago )
Winder police bust marijuana grow operation
A illegal marijuana grow operation was uncovered in Winder last Wednesday, leading to the arrests of five people.
6:58AM ( 8 hours ago )
STATE CHAMPS: Buford sweeps Whitewater for AAAA title (VIDEO)
Buford won its first state baseball title since 2011 with a sweep of Whitewater Saturday in the Class AAAA championship series...
6:25AM ( 9 hours ago )
History and Heritage at Ft. Hollingsworth
North Georgia's sunny sky and comfortable temperatures brought out the visitors Saturday to the 20th Annual 'Day at the Fort' at Fort Hollingsworth, nestled in the rolling Banks County countryside near Alto.
7:34PM ( 19 hours ago )