Water safety top concern on Valley lakes this Fourth of July

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Fourth of July weekend is almost here, and you may already have plans to get out on the water this weekend

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Fourth of July weekend is almost here, and you may already have plans to get out on the water this weekend. The National Boating Safety Council wants to remind everyone about the dangers of operating a boat under the influence.

Yvonne Pentz from the National Boating Safety Council said there are on average 600 boating accidents each year and alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.

“Never boat under the influence. You might see a heightened presence of marine law enforcement out on the water this July Fourth weekend as they are going to be looking for boaters who are under the influence,” Pentz said.

Pentz says that legal action for boating under the influence varies from state to state. Some states do consider boating under the influence as a similar offense to driving a car under the influence.

For both Ohio and Pennsylvania, it is illegal to operate a boat under the influence. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resource, you’re considered under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .08, .02 if under the age of 21.

In Pennsylvania, the first offense is a minimum of 3 days in jail and $150 fine and a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Last month in Pennsylvania, both the state House and Senate committee passed a measure that would make boating under the influence penalties stricter…

“Many people don’t realize that the effects of alcohol can be magnified when you are on the water because you have the sun, the motion of the boat. You may feel tipsy or a passenger may fall overboard. Please have someone who is designated to be responsible for the boat and passengers,” Pentz said.

Pentz also wants boaters to remember that they should to be wearing a life jacket at all times. She also cautions against setting fireworks off of your boat. Leave that to the experts.

Operating a boat under the influence does include drug use.

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