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Boating under the influence

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Area agencies are teaming up for a national program called Operation Dry Water, in an effort to keep our waters safe.

“Sometimes we just leave the boat in the boatslip, and sit there and have our toddy’s right there,” said Wilmington’s Trip Speight.

It is people like Speight that law enforcement want to see enjoying a hot day on the water. But the minute boat drivers start drinking, they are ready to show them the law. “If we run into someone who is impaired, we are prepared to take them to jail. We take it seriously,” said NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s Todd Radabaugh.

Friday kicks off Operation Dry Water; a program where area agencies join forces to crack down on drunk boaters. They say boating is a lot different than driving a car. “It actually takes less alcohol to impair someone who is operating a boat, than it would a car, because of the sun and the wind,” added Radabaugh.

Boater Gregory Jacobs added, “They don’t see the sandbars, the low tides. People can run up on anything.”

Jacobs remembers a scary time when his good friends were drinking on their boat. “They were out there having a good time and fell off the boat. The prop about cut his head off.”

“There are so many people who have young kids they are pulling on skis, or tubing, and we’ve got to be careful about those youngsters,” Speight said.

People we spoke with told us on the weekends, the Intracoastal in Wrightsville Beach looks like I-40. Even more reason to stay sober on the water.

The blood alcohol testing trailer or the BATT mobile will be standing by at the Wrightsville Beach boat ramp. Law enforcement will be checking boaters as they get on and off their boats.

Inside the BATT mobile are portable breathalizers and a magistrate, so if it turns out the suspect is intoxicated and boating, they can be sent straight to jail.

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videoWhen the heat is on in the summer, a lot of people in this area beat it by spending time on their boat. This weekend, law enforcement will be keeping a close eye on them, to make sure they’re practicing safe boating skills.

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