STURGEON BAY, WI – Drinking while boating. It’s something the U.S. Coast Guard is cracking down on this Memorial Day weekend. They're patrolling the waters, to keep alcohol out of boater’s hands.
“Well they say 70% of all fatal boating accidents involve in alcohol,” said Michael Gauthier with the Coast Guard Station in Sturgeon Bay. “And of that 80% involve people drowning.”
Gauthier and his crew will be out on Lake Michigan this weekend. And if they see someone who they suspect is drinking and boating, they will stop them.
“I think our presence out there is going to stop it from happening to begin with,” he said.
Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July and Labor Day are their busiest times. On a big weekend, they can stop anywhere from 15 to 30 boats a day.
Gary Strom and his family caught a cooler full of fish Saturday morning. He said he is always concerned with safety, and warns of drinking and boating.
“You wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car drinking,” he said. “So don't get behind the wheel of a boat.”
Rose Thompson agrees. She's hitting Sturgeon Bay for the first time this year.
“You never know what another boater is going to do,” she said.
She said she would notify law enforcement if she saw anyone driving a boat drunk.
“You just don't have that control that you would have if you haven’t been drinking,” Thompson said.
The Coast Guard will continue their patrols through the rest of the weekend. Although the Coast Guard station doesn't issue monetary fines at the time of the stop. They do refer the citations to their legal system, and you could ultimately lose your boating privileges.