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New boats help deputies crack down on intoxicated boaters

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Denton County Sheriff’s Lake Patrol deputies will be targeting intoxicated boaters and conducting safety inspections this Memorial Day weekend using two new boats.

Regular boat patrols of Lewisville Lake and Lake Ray Roberts will begin noon Friday, May 28, and run through Monday, May 31. The lakes will then be patrolled regularly on the weekends until after the Labor Day weekend.

The new boats, both 22-foot Triton Enforcers equipped with Mercury 250 HP Verado motors, promise better fuel efficiency and less maintenance problems. One was paid for by the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program and the other was bought through regular county funds to replace the old boats, which were out of service several times last year and would continue to require costly repairs because of their age.

“Boaters need to be aware that the law requires that boats have enough personal flotation devices for each person on board, and that children under 13 years of age must wear one when the boat is traveling on the water,” said Sgt. Jose Pena. “In addition, taking the state boater education course is required for some boat operators, but all boaters can benefit and may even be eligible for insurance discounts if they take the course.”

The course can be taken online at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/boater_education/.

In the past five years the Sheriff’s Office has doubled the number of boat patrol officers on the lake during the summer season. All lake patrol officer are trained and certified by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife as Marine Officers to better enforce the Texas Water Safety Act, boating while intoxicated laws, and help educate boaters about water safety.

“We’re not out there just to write tickets,” Patrol Captain Mike Caley said. “Our primary concern is the safety of Denton County families. In the overwhelming majority of boating accidents, somebody broke the law and caused a tragedy. Our job is to prevent as many of those as we can.”

Last year a total of eight people drowned on Lewisville Lake and Lake Ray Roberts, two of them were boat-related.

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