Wildlife officers urge boat safe, boat sober on Labor Day holiday

Published 3:52 pm Monday, August 23, 2010

The Labor Day weekend is the last hurrah for summer and one of the busiest times on waterways in North Carolina. To make it a safe holiday, wildlife officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission are urging everyone to boat safe, boat sober.

Throughout the Labor Day holiday, wildlife officers will be on patrol across the state to enforce boating regulations and conduct vessel safety inspections, in an effort to help minimize the risk of accidents.

We will concentrate on getting the impaired boat operator off the water, said Capt. Chris Huebner, the state boating safety coordinator. Alcohol is a factor in over 20 percent of boating fatalities.

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Operating a recreational vessel while under the influence of an impairing substance or with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is against the law. The maximum penalty is $1,000 fine and possible jail.

In addition to Boat Safe, Boat Sober, wildlife officers remind boaters over the Labor Day holiday:

Wear a life vest North Carolina law requires children younger than 13 to wear an appropriate life vest whenever they are on a recreational vessel that is underway, and it is recommended for everyone.

Blue light = no wake All watercraft must slow to a no wake speed when passing within 100 feet of a patrol boat displaying a flashing blue light. In narrow channels, watercraft must slow to a no wake speed within 50 feet.

Mandatory boating education law Anyone younger than 26 operating a vessel powered by a 10 horsepower or greater motor on public waterways must have successfully completed an approved boating safety education course or otherwise be in compliance.

For more information on safe recreational boating or to enroll in a free boating education course offered by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, go to www.ncwildlife.org or call 919-707-0031.