Great Lakes Coast Guard Warning: Don't drink and boat, be careful this Fourth of July weekend

Posted at 5:40 PM, Jun 30, 2017

As we Americans get ready for the holiday weekend ahead, many are getting their boats ready to take out on the water.

The 4th of July weekend is a great time to go out and have fun, but officers with the Great Lakes Coast Guard say don't go overboard.

Starting on Friday and through the weekend, the Coast Guard is working with other police agencies in "Operation Dry Water" to reduce the number of accidents involving drugs and alcohol out on the water.

Coast Guard officers say those operating boats should off on consuming alcoholic drinks.

Officer Isaac Padilla recalled one of his first patrols last year when they arrested a man for BUI -- boating under the influence.

“There were children on the sailboat, so that was a big hit on why we stopped them,” he said, “In that case, it actually went through the court.”

According to the Coast Guard, alcohol is the leading factor for recreational boating deaths.

“A lot of times, we get boaters, who were inexperienced, and that will play a factor into it as well,” said James Gang, Coast Guard Officer, “We get the same problem with judgment and reaction time.”

Another problem is boaters not knowing how to properly wear life jackets. Officer William Verdun said the jackets need to be snug and fully secured. He says boaters should have fun, but should also be prepared, just in case.

The Coast Guard says there is nothing wrong with having a few drinks while out on the boat, but make sure to have a designated driver - or boater.

Last year, the coast guard had to stop more than 360 boaters in the U.S. due to boating under the influence.

The use of alcohol is involved in about one-third of all recreational boating fatalities. Penalties for BUI include large fines, revocation of operator privileges and jail time.