Hoping to prevent boating injuries and fatalities, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens will be increasing their numbers on lakes and other waterways Memorial Day weekend.
In addition, officials in .php parts of the state will continue the tradition of the “no refusal” weekend to step up boating while intoxicated/driving while intoxicated arrests and citations.
During the “no refusal” weekend on-site judges work with TPWD officers and law enforcement personnel with other agencies to issue search warrants for blood draws when a suspect is under investigation for a BWI/DWI charge and refuses a breath test. The “no refusal” weekend also employs mobile DWI/BWI intoxilyzer units.
“Memorial Day weekend kicks off our water safety season, and we want to start things off right and make sure everyone is safe and doing the right thing,” said Game Warden Lt. Cody Jones, of TPWD’s marine enforcement section.
Overall boating fatalities are down 26 percent from 2009 to 2010, decreasing from 38 in 2009 to 28 last year. So far this year 12 people have lost their lives in boating accidents. Jones attributes this decrease in fatalities to increased enforcement. He said officials made 316 arrests in 2010 associated with BWI/DWI charges as compared with 220 in 2009.
“There’s been a decrease statewide in boating fatalities, and we would like to see that trend continue,” Jones said.
Game wardens have five key safety tips for boaters:
1. Always wear a lifejacket
2. Drink responsibly and designate a non-drinking operator for the boat
3. Be weather wise: pay attention to local weather reports
4. Keep proper safety equipment onboard your vessel
5. Know the rules: take an online boater safety course.
The online boaters’ safety course is offered through www.boat-ed.com/tx/ for $13. Boaters with the online course certificate may receive a discounted rate from their boating insurance provider.