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Wildlife officers urge safety for holiday boaters

Posted July 3, 2011

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— Many people in North Carolina spent their holiday weekend on the water. Area lakes were busy Sunday with Fourth of July revelers and patrol officers, who were keeping an eye out for impaired boaters.

"People get out here and they're having a good time and they forget about safety," said Sgt. Reggie Parker of the state Wildlife Resources Commission. "They don't think about safety first."

Parker was patrolling on Lake Jordan in Chatham County, doing spot checks to ensure that people had all the proper safety equipment on board. He also administered sobriety tests, which are different on the water than they are on land.

Wildlife officers patrol lakes for drunk boaters State patrols lakes for impaired boaters

Operating a boat while impaired can lead to jail time and up to $1,000 in fines.

North Carolina is the first state to begin training officers in new sobriety test techniques that have been backed by research institutions as being more reliable. Parker said it will bolster wildlife officers' credibility in the courtroom. 

Last weekend, wildlife officers made 61 arrests for operating while impaired.

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