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Game wardens will be on Maine lakes this holiday weekend looking for boaters under the influence

Game wardens will be doing boat safety checks this weekend to ensure that drivers are sober.

Inland Fisheries and Wildlife wardens will be patrolling Maine's lakes this weekend to ensure boaters are not drinking and boating while impaired. Operation Dry Water is a national program that IFW Spokesman Mark Latti says Maine has used for 10 years.

"We're asked why we do this," Latti said. "Early in my career at the agency, we had a young girl hit by a drunk boater who later died on a July 4th Weekend. There is always the potential for something tragic like this to happen, especially when you combine alcohol and boating."

Latti says last year 80 officers checked 1,700 boats on the July 4th weekend. One boater was arrested with a blood alcohol level of .17, more than twice the legal limit. Latti says having wardens on the water and visible to boaters is a good deterrent.

"Having high visibility, having a lot of officers on the busier lakes and during celebrations. People know we're out there keeping the water safe, and we believe that has an impact on limiting alcohol use while boating," Latti said.

Wardens will also ensure there are enough life jackets on boats for all passengers on board. Latti says children under 10 must wear a life jacket.

Last year, Operation Dry Water resulted in 638 boaters across the country being arrested for driving under the influence.