Law enforcement cracking down on boaters over holiday

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PennDOT, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania DUI Association held a press conference Wednesday to remind people to celebrate the Independence Day holiday responsibly, whether they’re driving a vehicle or on a boat.

“The best seat in the house is sitting in a boat in the middle of a river to watch your fireworks display,” said John Arway, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. But this is also a time when people tend to drink heavily.

“We want to make sure that the 330,000 registered boaters that we have out there on our waters really understand the rules of the water,” said Arway. “Don’t drink while driving your boat, jet ski, or paddling your Kayak or canoe. It’s a dangerous mix. There aren’t any lines on our rivers and there aren’t any brakes on our boats.”

The organizations are teaming up and starting enforcement July 4th through July 7th. “We’re bringing in extra law-enforcement staff, working with other law enforcement agencies to make sure our waters and our roads are safe,” said Arway. In the water they will not only be looking for impaired boaters, but also making sure boats have enough life vests, and people are following the rules.

Arway is also encouraging people to be on the lookout for impaired boaters. “Any abnormal behavior, just like on a road. If you see somebody weaving, even though there aren’t any lines, there are certain rules. You’re supposed to pass boats on the certain side of a river, and there are certain markers you need to obey,” said Arway. “If you see someone, get the registration number on the front of their boat and call an officer on duty.”

Fines and penalties for boating under the influence are comparable to those for driving under the influence.