TPWD Game Wardens Will Ticket Those Who ‘BUI’ on Canyon Lake
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) game wardens are the law on Canyon Lake and they’re on heightened alert this weekend, looking for those violating boating-under-the-influence laws.
“Operating a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense which will lead to your arrest and will include jail time, fines, and the loss of your driver’s license,” said Cody Jones, TPWD assistant commander for Marine Enforcement. “It also increases the risk of accidents or fatalities on the waterway.”
Alcohol remains the leading cause of fatal boating accidents in Texas and across the country.
TPWD is participating in Operation Dry Water, a program for law-enforcement officers that increases boating-under-the-influence (BUI) enforcement July 2-4.
In 2020, game wardens made 193 criminal arrests of people who boated while intoxicated, statewide.
On Canyon Lake, they patrolled for 2,157 hours, issued 397 citations, handled two boating fatalities (neight of which involved alcohol) and assisted with one injury beyond simple first-aid.
Alcohol use, operator inattention, careless/reckless operation, operator experience and wakes were among the top five accident causes or contributing factors to injuries or fatalities on Texas waterways in 2020.
The months of May through August traditionally have the highest numbers of injuries and fatalities statewide, with weekends seeing peak figures, TPWD said in a press release.
Both TPWD and the U.S. Coast Guard also stress the importance of simple water-safety precautions on Texas waterways like Canyon Lake, including wearing a life jacket, learnng how to swim and closely supervising children.
“A stowed life jacket is as useful as the seatbelt you didn’t put on when you got in your car,” said Capt. Jason Smith, U.S. Coast Guard sector commander Houston-Galveston. “You need to wear it for it to save your life.”
Under state law, a life jacket must be available for each occupant of a boat or paddle craft. Children under the age of 13 are required to wear one while the boat or paddle craft is underway or drifting.
In 2020, Texas game wardens issued 641 citations for children not wearing a life jacket, up 11 percent from 2019.
“Additionally, TPWD wants to remind you to use your engine cut-off switch, which is a state and federal law, and taking a boater education class,” said TPWD Boating Education Manager Kimberly Sorenson. “Know the rules of the waterway and check the weather beforehand. Boaters also should never operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol.”
To review TPWD boating laws, click here.
TPWD also asks boaters to “clean, dry and drain” vessels over the holiday weekend.
To learn more about how to fight back against aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels and giant salvinia, click here.