May 21-27 has been designated as “Safe Boating Week” in Louisiana, and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is reminding everyone to be responsible on the water.

LDWF Enforcement Division agents will be out in full force to perform boating safety checks and DWI patrols, according to a press release from the department.

Each vessel should have enough personal flotation devices (PFDs) on board for all occupants and a sober operator.  LDWF regulations also state that anyone 16 years of age and younger must wear a PFD while underway in vessels less than 26 foot long.  For more boating and PFD regulations, click here

Alcohol use is one of the leading causes of boating crash incidents and fatalities on the water.  The penalties for DWI on the water are the same as on the road — anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver's license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case.

LDWF also wants to remind anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 that they are required to successfully complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower.  LDWF offers these classes free of charge statewide.  For a list of courses, click here

In 2015, Louisiana reported 22 boating fatalities.  In 2013 and 2014, Louisiana reported 15 and 18 fatalities, which were the lowest and second lowest ever recorded for the state.  So far this year, Louisiana has reported six fatalities.