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Extra patrols on Georgia lakes to crack down on speeders, impaired boaters

HALL COUNTY, Ga. — Authorities will be on high alert at Georgia’s lakes this holiday weekend.

Memorial Day is one of the busiest weekends of the season and game wardens were out stepping up patrols to crack down on impaired boaters and people breaking the law.

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Channel 2′s Justin Carter visited Lake Lanier on Sunday where some boaters said they already had to be extra careful on the water.

“People are out and they’ll be drinking on the lake. It’s obviously gonna cause sometimes accidents,” Greg Galloway said.

Galloway is from Sugar Hill and has been boating at Lake Lanier for years.

“It’s also being aware of your surroundings, being aware of all the boats that are around,” he said. “It can get busy out here, especially on the south side of the lake.”

He says weaving through speeding wave runners was tricky Sunday.

“Sometimes they are more concerned about hitting waves than you if you have a boat,” Galloway said.

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Major Stephen Adams with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources issued a warning to people hitting Georgia lakes this weekend.

“Our game wardens will be enforcing all boating laws this weekend, as well as the rest of the summer,” Adams said.

The Georgia DNR said 83 people died on Georgia waterways in 2021. At least 25 people have died so far this year.

Game wardens are working hard, looking for people distracted, not wearing life vests, speeding and violating the 100 foot rule.

Vessels must be at idle speed if it’s within 100 feet of a person in the water, a dock, a pier or a bridge.

“Just a few simple acts can mean the difference between an enjoyable safe day and a life altering tragic day,” Adams said.

Antoine Sanders says he learned his lesson when he got stopped last year for violating the 100-foot rule.

“Just in the weight zone... I didn’t think I was moving fast, but they made sure I slowed down just to stay safe,” Sanders told Carter. “I just make sure I drive calm, watch the waves and watch out for the jet skis and all the other boats that are flying around.”

Officers have the right to perform safety checks and perform sobriety tests out on the water as well.

Officials said 243 people were arrested for boating while under the influence last year.