WACO, Texas – Do you have any plans for the Fourth of July?
If your plan includes enjoying one of the recently reopened lakes, we have information about authorities working to make things safer.
Everyone is expecting to have a great time this Fourth of July, and part of this is respecting the laws on drinking and boating.
Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths, so Texas Park and Wildlife officials are taking extra precautions this Independence Day.
Kathy Herod says she plans on spending the day with family.
“My grand kids and my kids are coming out, and we’re just going to have a good time,” Herod says.
Like a lot of people in Central Texas, Herod is looking forward to spending the Fourth of July on the water and enjoying the fireworks. One thing that may cause a problem? Other boaters drinking and driving.
“We need to remember that it’s not illegal to drink on a boat, and it’s not illegal to have an open container,” says Mathew Kiel, of Texas Parks and Wildlife. “But people need to remember that when you’re in the sun and you’re not drinking a whole lot of water and you’re consuming alcohol, the effects of alcohol will happen a lot sooner then if you were in an air-conditioned bar drinking.”
Operating a vessel under the influence can lead to fines, confinement in jail, and the loss of a driver’s license.
“The legal limits for driving apply on a boat. So .07 or below is the BAC you can have when operating a vessel on Texas water ways,” Kiel says. “We’re bringing in some extra Game Wardens from around the state to help out and patrol our waterways. We’ll be out there in force.”
And even if you don’t plan on drinking while out on the lake, there are still precautions that you should take to stay safe.
Gneeisis, a local, says she planned on staying safe by “wearing a life jacket when going fishing and drinking lots of water.”
Jonathan, another local, says, “Make sure you have a life jacket on and you stay hydrated when you go out.”
Herod stresses the importance of paying attention: “There’s a lot of kids that go out swimming behind the boats. If you’re out boating, go slow around those boats and please watch out for the kids.”