DNR officers patrol lakes to keep boaters safe

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Memorial Day weekend means thousands of boaters on our local lakes, and more people means more officers.

News 12 rode along with officers from the Department of Natural Resources on Monday, and there were some arrests this weekend on Clarks Hill Lake.

"A lot of people don't think about police being on the water...but we're out here," said Cpl. Ryan Swain. He and his team of DNR officers pulled over about 40 people Memorial Day weekend for safety violations.

Doug McKinney and his family are an example.

"We're good, we usually carry about 15 to 20 lifejackets," McKinney said. Everyone on the boat had one. The violation?

"You got a picture ID on you?" Swain asked.

"You know, I don't," said McKinney.

He got off with a verbal warning. But Swain says his team made several arrests this weekend.

"It's not just alcohol...we're seeing drug abuse on the lake."

The new trend is methamphetamine, but most Boating under the Influence arrests are for alcohol.

"A lot of times we get complaints on people because of erratic behavior...they drive near the dock, they drive near people skiing," Cpl. Swain said.

But they chase down anything suspicious.

Joel Turner was pulled over for having too many people on his boat.

"How many people this boat rated for?" asked Swain.

"I don't even know," Turner replied.

The boat was riding low because of the crowd.

"It's busy...real busy," Cpl. Swain said. "We get a lot of complaints on holiday weekends."

Last memorial weekend across Georgia, DNR officers arrested 77 people for BUI. There were 116 boating accidents and 16 fatalities.

If you're on the water, you should have the following: one life jacket per person, a navigation light for night time, a fire extinguisher, registration, and proper identification.