By Adam Einck, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division will be participating in “Safe Boating Week” from May 20-26, which signifies the beginning of the spring and summer boating season.
LDWF will again be reminding all boaters to be safe, responsible and knowledgeable while on the water during this safe boating week. Safe Boating Week is a time for all boaters to inspect their vessels to ensure that all required safety equipment is on board and that vessels are in good working condition.
LDWF agents will be out in full force as always during the week to perform boating safety checks that includes making sure all personal flotation device (PFD) regulations are being followed and that each vessel has a sober operator.
In 2022, Louisiana reported 29 boating fatalities of which 22 of the fatalities were not wearing a personal flotation device. So far, in 2023 Louisiana has reported four 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.
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.
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 140,000 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.