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Suffolk police: We will be on lookout for drunken boaters

Sergeant Joseph Russo of the Islip Town Harbor

Sergeant Joseph Russo of the Islip Town Harbor Patrol stands in the bow of a patrol boat to prepare for docking before a press conference highlighting the dangers and consequences of boating while intoxicated on Friday, July 1, 2016. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The Suffolk County Police Department will be watching for drunk boaters this July 4th weekend.

At a press conference at the Bay Shore marina on Friday, elected officials and law enforcement reminded the public to celebrate safely aboard boats and watercraft this weekend, and that anyone planning to drink alcohol while aboard a watercraft should not plan to operate the vessel and instead designate a sober pilot.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said that the sunny weather forecast for the holiday weekend will mean thousands of sunbathers, jet-skiers and boaters flocking to area beaches and waterways.

“What we don’t want to see is a day of fun turn into a day of tragedy,” Bellone said. “People who would not drink and drive...think somehow it’s okay on the waterways.”

Bellone said safe boaters should “check the water and the weather conditions, operate at safe speeds at all times, especially in crowded areas, use life jackets.”

“Use common sense,” Bellone added.

“We want people to be safe on the roads. We want them to be safe on the water,” said Islip town supervisor Angie Carpenter.

The blood alcohol limit for boat pilots is the same as for drivers: 0.08 percent.

Tell-tale signs of drunk boating are similar to drunk driving, said Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron: vessels moving without their lights on at night and boats operating slower or faster than normal.

“The message is very simple,” said Suffolk Police Commissioner Tim Sini. “The Suffolk County Police Department does not want to become part of your party.”

“We will be out in force” with the Marine Bureau and the Islip town harbor police conducting boating-while-intoxicated patrols and checkpoints, he said. “We will be out there in force and we will arrest you.”

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