Multi-agency safety initiative aims to crack down on alcohol-related accidents

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As North Carolina eases some restrictions put in place to help stem the spread of the Coronavirus lots of people are expected to be on the highways and waterways for the Memorial Day holiday.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, State Highway Patrol and Mothers Against Drunk Driving will begin the tenth annual “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign this weekend.

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The multi-agency safety initiative works to reduce alcohol-related accidents on the state’s roadways and waterways, both of which see increased traffic during summer months.

Over Memorial Day weekend, enforcement officers will be conducting sobriety checkpoints and promoting public awareness to deter impaired operation of vehicles and vessels.

“Within the last couple of weekends, there’s been a significant increase of boat operators and new boaters out on the water as well as old boaters,” said Master Officer Clayton Ludwick with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

There are a number of things you can do to be safe while out on the water.

“Increasing your distance, not rafting up with other boaters, and keeping a safe distance when you’re launching or retrieving your boat is important,” Ludwick said.

In light of the Coronavirus, he recommends boating with family members or people you’ve been around and not congregating with random people you meet on a barrier island.

According to the state, the three busiest summer weekends include May 23 – 25, July 3 – 5, and Sept. 5 – 7.

The Commission advises anyone who plans to consume alcohol to designate a sober driver instead of getting behind the wheel of a car or a vessel. In North Carolina, a driver or vessel operator with a blood-alcohol concentration that meets or exceeds .08, or is substantially impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, is subject to arrest.

“Obviously, we’re out there looking to keep everybody safe and looking for those impaired boaters and those people will be arrested,” he said. “If you are going to drink, drink with a designated driver.”

The campaign is coordinated by the Commission and the State Highway Patrol, and supported by local police and sheriff’s offices, along with participating non-governmental organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“Anybody born after January 1, 1988 needs to have a boater education license,” Ludwick said.

You can obtain one by going to NCWildlife.org.

“You can take a 6-hour boater education course online at your convenience and that’s what you need to have if you plan to go on the water,” Ludwick said.

For more information on boating safety and regulations, visit ncwildlife.org/boating.