LDWF Officers Issue Loaner Life Jackets, Warnings

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' Enforcement Division announced a new boating safety program last week designed to alert boat operators of a safety violation and keep them on the water at the same time. Beginning in August, Enforcement Division patrol vessels will carry extra personal flotation devices (PFDs) to be used as loaners when agents encounter a vessel not in compliance with PFD requirements. A written warning citation may be issued to first offense boat operators violating PFD requirements. Agents will then loan a PFD to the operator with instructions to return the life vest to the department within 10 days.

"Our goal is to educate boaters on boating safety regulations in place to assure their safety and allow them to remain on the water and enjoy their day when it is possible to bring the vessel in compliance," said LDWF Col. Winton Vidrine. If the PFD is not returned to the Enforcement Division within 10 days, the agent will void the warning citation and issue the operator a criminal citation for the PFD violation. The date of violation on the class one citation will be the same date that was on the warning citation.

According to LDWF, nearly 70 percent of the boating fatalities in Louisiana are due to drowning, and nearly 80 percent of those victims were not wearing a life jacket. For more information on safe boating practices, regulations, or boating education courses, visit LDWF's Web site at www.wlf.louisiana.gov.

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