SAUGATUCK, MICH.– The Allegan County Sheriff’s department says they have stepped up patrols for their marine unit to encourage safe boating practices during the busy holiday weekends.
“Our job is 95% education for boaters. The other 5% is enforcement,” Allegan County Marine Sergeant Todd Wagner said.
Sunday, the marine unit made several stops in the hour we spent riding along with them.
Most of the stops? For creating a wake in the no wake zone along the Kalamazoo river. Something that is incredibly frustrating for home owners who live along the river.
“With the water levels as high as they are, we have received a lot of complaints,” Wagner said.
Sergeant Wagner says that most people don’t know they’re breaking the rules.
“I think part of it’s that they don’t know the rules for that local area,” Wagner said.
This is why their first move is to educate boaters before they issue citations. Of course, the sheriff’s office says to remember things like life-vests, and to abide by the appropriate drinking laws. You can have an open container in a boat, but cannot be impaired enough to the point where you cannot drive. They enforce the same intoxication limits (.08) in the water as they do if you are driving a car.
“There are so many things that folks just don’t know when it comes to operating a motor vehicle,” Wagner said.
The Allegan County Sheriff’s office offers boaters safety courses. The full schedule can be found here.