CHARLESTON, W.Va. – While the Fourth of July weekend tends to be the bustiest time of the year for boating recreation, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources reminds boaters to keep their boats operational, drive sober and wear personal floatation devices while on the water.
“A lot of people will be taking their boats out this weekend to celebrate our country’s independence and we just want to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves in a way that is safe and responsible,” said WVDNR Law Enforcement Lt., Warren E. Goodson.
Goodson said boaters should perform a safety check to make sure horns and lights are operational before going out on the water. He also mentioned to make sure personal floatation devices are accessible and available for all passengers.
“As the skipper, it is your responsibility to be sober and make sure everyone on board gets back to land safely,” Goodson said.
Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1986 must complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators approved boater education class before they can legally operate a motor boat or personal watercraft on any water in West Virginia. The traditional in-seat class is free to attend and cover topics such as U.S. Coast Guard navigational rules, safe motorboat operation and legal boating requirements in West Virginia. Boater education classes also can be completed online through a NASBLA and state-approved vendor for a fee.
According to Goodson, boaters should also:
- Have a throwable device on boats longer than 16 feet
- Share their float plan with someone they trust
- Check the weather
- Appoint at least one additional designated boat operator
The WVDNR would also like to reminder boaters that boating under the influence is dangerous and against the law. More than 15 percent of recreational boating fatalities are linked to intoxication. To enforce the state’s sober boating laws, Goodson said WVDNR law enforcement officers will be patrolling the state’s waters this weekend.
To learn more about West Virginia’s boating regulations and boating safety program, visit WVdnr.gov/lenforce/boating.shtm.