Preventing people from drinking alcohol while operating a boat or vehicle and promoting safety on the water will be Rutherford County Safety Task Force’s goal during the Independence Day weekend.
Task force members, including the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, will enforce boating under the influence and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs July 2 on Percy Priest Lake and around Jefferson Springs Recreation Area.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Shawn Boyd said task force members will participate with the TWRA in Operation Dry Water from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday July 2.
“We will saturate the boat ramps watching for impaired drivers,” Boyd said. “Our concentration areas will be roadways and boat ramps located in Rutherford County.”
Barry Cross, communication and outreach coordinator for TWRA’s Region II, said TWRA officers will work July 2-4 for Operation Dry Water to enforce the BUI laws and emphasize boating safety. People may report violations to TWRA’s regional office at 615-781-6622.
The TWRA will be on heightened alert for boating under the influence infractions. Law enforcement officers will increase public awareness of the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, for both operators and passengers.
Boaters will notice an overall increase in officer patrols on the water. The combined efforts of the participating law enforcement agencies will result in the removal of impaired operators from state’s waterways, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for boaters.
“Our state suffers boating incidents and tragedies each year that could have been avoided if it weren’t for the presence of drugs or alcohol,” said Cpt. Matt Majors, TWRA Boating Investigator. “Our goal is to protect those in the communities we serve and to ensure that recreational boaters, paddlers, fishermen and others who visit our waters are able to enjoy their time with family and friends safely. Our Agency is joining all states and U.S. territories to do our part in helping keep boaters safe and preventing incidents caused by boating under the influence.”
Cross said the message is to refrain from drinking and operating a boat and having a safe operator, Cross said.
Fourteen people have died in drownings this year in Tennessee.
Boaters must have life jackets for everyone on board that fit. Children under age 13 must have a life jacket on.
“The life jacket is your lifeline,” Cross said. “It’s like a seat belt in a car. You put it on and it will protect you. That life jacket is going to give you a second chance.”