TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — The week of Memorial Day is the traditional start of the summer boating season in Alabama, but you won’t be the only ones out on the water. Marine police will be out in full force throughout the busy summer season.
It’s already been a busy season for Lake Tuscaloosa Marine Police Officer Freddie Ingram. Ingram says, “we’ve had some issues with some boats just tearing up and we’ve had of course some violations we’ve had to take care of…I’ve had to test some folks [for alcohol] and everybody’s been doing well. Hadn’t had a real big problem with people drinking and driving. I’ve had a lot of alcohol related issues but none of them were the driver.”
Ingram’s been on the water every day, most of his time has been spent warning people, not writing tickets.
“I’d probably say about 65% of it’s been education,” says Ingram, “just educating people on what they need, and trying to keep them familiar with the boat laws as they change.”
Marine police aren’t the only ones seeing the amount of traffic, the locals are too. Kelly Shipp, a local resident says, “It just throws you all over the place. You can’t let the kids ride the tube or the knee board because there’s so much wake.”
Living near the water does have its amenities though, and Kelly says she wouldn’t change it for the world. But it is important to obey the laws on the water. You can be fined up to $2100 and get a year of jail time for your first “boating under the influence” offense. And if you hurt or kill another person on the water you could face up to ten years in prison.
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