Boaters, these violations could ruin a fine Memorial Day on the water

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It won't just be life-jacket violations or excessive drinking that Georgia Department of Natural Resources officers will be on the lookout for this Memorial Day.

Cpl. Ben Payne with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources

They’ll have a new set of possible violations -- things like social distancing.

As you hit the water this Memorial Day, you’ll still need to follow all the usual rules.

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"We will have as many game wardens as we can on the waterways," said Cpl. Ben Payne with the agency.

But this year, you’ll have to stay socially distant, too.

"We would just ask that if you’re not in a family group, that you would make sure that you're using the 6-foot distancing, and no more than 10 people in a group," Payne said.

While AAA thinks this year might show a record low number of people on the roads, Payne is actually expecting more people on the water.

"With gas prices down, I think a lot of people will hit the waterways," Payne explained.

Payne says during some weeks of the stay-at-home orders, the DNR saw a 70 percent increase in license sales. But more people in the water means officers will have to up their game.

"Guys that are inland that don’t have waterways, typically we will pull them to the waterways," Payne said. " We will have at least four or five boats per lake, and then two or three boats on the rivers themselves."

A little fun in the sun doesn’t mean the pandemic is over.

"Whenever we see people that are not using the social distancing, we will interact and have them disperse," Payne said.

He also says if people are compliant, the DNR usually won’t issue a citation. But if they do, it could cost you a pretty penny.

"It's kind of like a reckless conduct charge. Any misdemeanor can be anywhere from $0 to $1,000 or up to 12 months in jail," Payne said.

Of course, that is up to a judge.

For more information, here are some safety tips from the Georgia Department of Natural resources and the CDC.

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