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Patrolling the waters in Van Buren County
SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Boaters are flocking to the lake shore to enjoy this warm weather after a slow start to summer, before the unofficial end of the season next weekend, Labor Day.
With more people on the water, there are more risks involved, especially when drinking is involved.
The good news is that Van Buren County deputies say this weekend has been a slow one for them, despite lots of boaters here on the lake. But drinking is still the number one cause of accidents out on the water and here in West Michigan, there's a lot of ground to cover.
Van Buren County alone patrols more than 75 inland lakes and 13 miles of coastline on Lake Michigan, making sure that life jackets are on-board and boaters are enjoying the water responsibly while the Coast Guard says boating under the influence incidents are up this summer over last, nearing 100 along the Great Lakes.
The Van Buren Sheriffs Department says they've only cited six all season, but with the Labor Day holiday just a week away, they'll be stepping up their presence out on the water to make sure the holiday is a safe one for everyone.
Deputies say you feel the effects of alcohol more on the water than on dry land, something called boaters phenomenon.
"On the road it's .08, on the water it's .10, Marine Deputy Jason Fisk explains. The effects of alcohol on the water are increased versus on land. When youre out and on the water and you're having a beer, those are going to have an effect on you."
Now, if you are pulled over for drinking and boating, you'll undergo similar sobriety tests to those on the road, but while a BUI won't affect your drivers license, there will be court fees and jail time possible.