LDWF Reminds Boaters to Boat Safe This Memorial Day Weekend

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As the 2024 Safe Boating Week (May 18-24) is winding down and the Memorial Day Weekend is kicking off, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division wants to remind everyone to boat responsibly this weekend.

 

“Memorial Day Weekend is a great time to get out on the waterways of Louisiana with school being out and the weather being nice,” said Major Clay Marques, the state’s boating law administrator. “We want everyone to have a great time on the water, but more importantly we want everyone to come home safe. Please have a sober operator, wear your personal flotation devices, and keep up-to-date on the weather this weekend while boating.”


 

Alcohol use is one of the leading causes of boating crash incidents and fatalities on the water. Alcohol consumption impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time. The penalties for operating or driving a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) are the same as driving a vehicle. Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver’s license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case.

 

Between 2019-23, there were 107 boating fatalities. Of those 107 fatalities, alcohol was a factor in 23 fatalities, with 88 of the fatalities recovered not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) and 97 of the fatalities failing to take a safe boating education course. To date in 2024, Louisiana has reported three boating fatalities.

 

Each vessel should have enough PFDs on board for all occupants. LDWF regulations also state that anyone 16 years of age and younger must wear a PFD while underway in vessels less than 26-foot long. For more boating and PFD regulations, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov and click on the “Boating” tab.


 

LDWF also wants to remind anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 that they are required to successfully complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower. Since the safe boating course’s inception in 2003, over 160,000 boaters have been certified in Louisiana.

 

LDWF offers these classes free of charge statewide. For more information and to schedule a safe boating course, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/boater-education.