The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division is participating in Safe Boating Week through May 22, which signifies the beginning of the spring and summer boating season.

LDWF will again be reminding all boaters to be safe, responsible and knowledgeable while on the water, according to a new release. Safe Boating Week is a time for all boaters to inspect their vessels to ensure that all required safety equipment is on board and that vessels are in good working condition.

LDWF agents will be out in full force during the week to perform boating safety checks and making sure boaters are practicing social distancing.

Each vessel should have enough personal flotation devices 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, visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating.

According to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Phase 1 order, outdoor activity including boating, all individuals should avoid groups of any size that do not allow for strict social distancing.

Alcohol use is one of the leading causes of boating crash incidents and fatalities on the water. Alcohol consumption impairs a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. 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 said anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984, are required to successfully complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators boating education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower.

LDWF offers these classes free statewide www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses. Since the safe boating course’s inception in 2003, over 118,000 boaters have been certified in Louisiana.

In 2019, Louisiana reported 20 boating fatalities. So far in 2020, Louisiana has reported seven fatalities.