FREMONT, Ind. (WFFT) — Indiana conservation officers are taking to the water this weekend as a part of the nationwide initiative Operation Dry Water.
”If you’re not familiar with Indiana’s boating laws, brush up on them before this weekend because we’re going to be out, we’re going to be enforcing boating law violations," said Indiana DNR Sergeant Patrick Heidenreich. "And educate yourself before you come out.”
One of those laws allows alcohol on boats, but prohibits operating while intoxicated.
That’s where Heidenreich comes in.
He stopped several boats for smaller issues Friday and will also be keeping an eye out for alcohol this weekend.
”Moving violations, registration violations, things that allow us to stop a boat. And then from there we can develop that probable cause if we think that the operator of the water craft is intoxicated,” Heidenreich said.
DNR reports alcohol is a leading factor in recreational boating deaths.
So officers hope to bring awareness to the issue ahead of a holiday weekend often associated with boating and drinking.
”If you do decide to consume alcohol, have a designated operator for your boat," Heidenreich said. "We want you to have a good time, but again we want you to be safe not just for yourself but for all the other people that are out here that want to enjoy the lake and be safe while they’re doing it.”
And being safe will be especially important this July 4 weekend.
Heidenreich expects thousands of boats on the water at a time over the next few days.
”A lot of boats that will be operating at very high speeds. Whenever you have a lot of people congested in a certain area, you just have to be very aware of your surroundings," Heidenreich said.
Heidenreich says while Lake James has been fairly calm on Friday, boaters should expect choppier waters throughout the weekend as more people crowd the area.
DNR says agencies from all 56 U.S. states and territories are expected to participate in Operation Dry Water throughout the weekend.