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‘Boat safe, boat sober’: Tips for staying safe on the water this holiday weekend

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CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — According to the Wildlife Commission, there’s been a surge in boat registrations in recent months so they’re advising boaters to be extra cautious as they hit the water, especially for the holiday weekend.

Boaters should also be aware of a new law that the Coast Guard will be enforcing. Vessels manufactured after December 2019 and less than 26 feet in length must have an engine cut-off switch tethered to the operator of the boat to prevent runaway boats.

The annual “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign launched this week as well. N.C. Wildlife and other law enforcement agencies will be patrolling on land and sea to make sure drivers are not drinking and driving.

“If we think there’s an impaired driver, we’ll stop the vessel and we’ll do a vessel inspection, check to make sure the person is not impaired to be driving the boat,” Master Officer Clayton Ludwick said. “If they are impaired, they get arrested and taken to jail for that.”

Officers can also stop boats for safety checks to make sure each boat has life jackets for everyone on board, kids 13 and under are wearing their life jackets, a type four throwable, and a fire extinguisher. If you pass, you’ll get a sticker to place on your boat to show that you have passed a safety check and if not, you will likely get a warning or even a citation.

“Make sure you know the area, know the laws, know the regulations and have fun while you’re out here but at the same time be safe,” Ludwick said. “It’s a recreational activity we want people to enjoy and that’s what it’s meant to do, to be outside and have fun, but just do it safely. Boat safe and boat sober.”

Officer Ludwick says to make sure that your registration is up to date and if you were born before January 1, 1988 to have your boater education certificate with you.

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