HOUSTON - If you’re planning to spend this weekend on the water, you aren’t alone. Boating traffic picks up this time of year and skyrockets over the holiday weekend.
That's why the Houston Police Department Marine Unit, Dive Team, and Texas Game Warden officers will be on Lake Houston in full force the entire Memorial Holiday weekend to make sure everyone is staying safe and looking for anyone Boating While Intoxicated, yes - just like Driving While Intoxicated.
"'Boating While Intoxicated' is actually a law such as Driving While Intoxicated," HPD Marine Unit Officer Alfonso Garcia explains.
In fact, your driver’s license can be suspended for operating a boat while intoxicated and Officer Garcia stresses BWI can be just as deadly. So if you plan to get out on the water with alcohol, Garcia has some suggestions.
"Make sure you have somebody that’s going to be able to operate that boat and when you do pull that boat out of the water you also need to have someone that’s going to operate that vehicle. DWI and BWI actually carry the exact equivalent law," he said.
HPD Officer Mike Moran is also in the Marine Unit, patrolling on Lake Houston. During the holiday weekend, just like now, they will be randomly stopping boaters.
"When we do our vessel inspections we’re going to be looking for life jackets, making sure everybody on board has a life jacket," he explains. "That’s the number one thing we want people to know. Everybody onboard must be able to produce a life jacket but anybody under the age of 13 has to have the life jacket on. We’re going to be looking for a horn or a whistle. We’re going to be looking for a fire extinguisher."
If you’ll be boating for the holiday you likely won’t only encounter a wealth of wildlife. We saw an alligator while we were out with the marine unit, but there will also be a boatload of others joining you for fun in the sun on the water.
"We noticed after COVID a lot of people started buying boats," Officer Garcia said. "Our boat traffic started increasing."
Whether you’ll be boating, jet skiing, or fishing for Memorial weekend Garcia hopes you’ll spend a bit of time beforehand learning the laws and proper precautions to protect everyone on board.
"We don’t want you to come out on a holiday and now your holiday is ruined for the rest of your life because your loved one ended up drowning, which has happened," Garcia says.
The Houston Police Marine Unit will be working 12-hour shifts the entire memorial weekend to make sure everyone on the water stays safe on Lake Houston.