BRISTOL, Tenn. - We're just days away from the Fourth of July, which means this weekend lakes are full of people out celebrating.
With extra people out on the water, that means extra patrols are out making sure everyone is staying safe.
News 5 rode around with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to find out what violations they're looking for.
The Buckner family spends a lot of time on South Holston Lake. "We bring at least five to 10 kids and they try out the wakeboard and ride the jet skis," Lujean Buckner says.
Being responsible for that many children, these parents are always looking out for their safety. "I trust them," Tim Buckner says, "but it's the other people on the water that you worry about, that maybe had too much to drink or don't know boating safety rules."
That's why the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will have more officers out the next couple of weekends for what they're calling 'Operation Dry Water'. It's an effort to make sure boaters aren't drinking.
We've learned 17percent of boating fatalities are a result of alcohol use. Wildlife Officer David Carpenter tells us that's why they're looking for impaired drivers. "Quite a bit of boating-related fatalities and boating accidents are associated with alcohol use. So essentially, what we're trying to do is cut down on that by increased patrol efforts for boating under the influence," Carpenter says.
We're told it's not illegal to drink alcohol while driving a boat; it's driving one while impaired that will get you in trouble. "Typically handled by arrests, it's very similar to a DUI on the road. So we usually take them in if it's boating under the influence," Carpenter continues.
This is the fifth year of Operation Dry Water and Carpenter says it seems to be working, because there have been less severe accidents.
Tim Buckner says he just wants drivers out there to remember one thing. "People just fail to realize when you're on the water, it's every much as responsibility as when you're on the road," he said.
TWRA officers in our area will be out all this weekend and the next for this campaign.
For more information you can visit their website: http://www.operationdrywater.org/
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