ODNR on the Lookout for Drunk Boaters

TOLEDO -- Now that summer is winding down, police have stepped up their enforcement of drunk driving on the roads.  But a different set of police officers has stepped up enforcement of drunk driving in boats.  To them, it's just as bad whether it's on land or on the water.

Safety is the main concern for Ohio Department of Natural Resources officers Jason Albanese and Eric Christen.  This holiday weekend they arrested at least one boater for drunk driving, saying alcohol in the hands of operators always creates problems.  "It's reaction time and all the effects from the water intensify the effects of alcohol so you're looking at a little bit of a different situation than driving a car," said Albanese.

They're also concerned about passengers partying it up.  "Some people when they're drinking they start losing common sense," said Albanese.  "They start sitting where they're not supposed to.  You hit boat wakes, you fall out of the boat.  People drown that way," he added.

The officers look for more than just alcohol issues, including life jackets and emergency signals.  "Flares are a big thing," explained Albanese.  "They're usually expired or a lot of people don't think they need to have them," he told us.

Overall, the officers said this weekend has been pretty good crediting boating education and patrolling, but for those not following the rules, they'll be watching.  "That's why we're out here," explained Albanese.  "To patrol and keep things safe for everybody."