Local News

Officers Patrol Waters for Drunken Boaters

Posted July 4, 2007 6:13 p.m. EDT
Updated July 5, 2007 1:36 p.m. EDT

— About 20 law-enforcement officers patrolled the waters of Falls Lake on Wednesday in an effort to keep people safe for the Independence Day holiday.

"While we certainly do not want to interfere with anyone's Fourth of July fun, we do want to ensure that the people enjoying the lake will be safe from drivers and boaters who are impaired," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Tuesday.

Wake County Sheriff's deputies and North Carolina Wildlife Enforcement officers were on alert for people operating watercraft while impaired as well as other watercraft violations and underage drinkers.

"Three beers might impair one person on land," N.C. Wildlife officer Brent Ward said. "Just one on water with the wave action and the sun beating on you – it can jump on you quick."

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, July 4 is the busiest day of the year on the water in North Carolina.

In 2005, there were 164 boating accidents in the state. Of those, 16 were fatal, and alcohol played a role in about 20 percent of those accidents.

The legal blood-alcohol limit for operating a watercraft in North Carolina is 0.08.

A Wake County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said Wednesday night that officers checked 61 boats and that no one was charged with boating while impaired. Two people, however, were charged with driving while impaired.