APD begins boating while intoxicated initiative

Friday through the July fourth holiday, Austin police will be on the hunt for intoxicated drivers behind the wheel of a car and a boat.

It's a picture perfect day on Lake Austin. APD lake patrol officers want to make sure it stays that way.  Almost immediately after hitting the water, they spot a boater going too fast in a no wake zone.

They use it as an opportunity to run through a random safety check.

Officers find multiple violations. The owner of the boat does not have his registration or a fire extinguisher and a baby and a small child are not wearing life jackets as required by law.

"Obviously safety is our number one priority out here,” Officer John O’Donnell, Jr. tells the boater.

The officer has no choice, but to issue the man a ticket. The officers set out again. They stop a jet skier just to warn him of the changes to the lake since the recent flooding. This time the officers are pleased with what they find.

"I appreciate y'all wearing your life jackets and your kill switch lanyard and you've got your whistle,” said O’Donnell.

“We're exemplary. We even have a license,” said jet skier Tom McLaurin.

Starting this weekend officers will enhance their patrol efforts with a specific focus on boating while intoxicated. At least one DWI officer will join them on the water now through the 4th of July holiday.

Officer John O'Donnell junior has witnessed what happens when boats and alcohol collide.

"We've had a couple people thrown off boats while they're moving at a pretty good speed,” said O’Donnell. "We've had a couple cases where people have gone underwater no one knew they were missing, and the next thing we know we have a rescue mission on our hands going underwater to retrieve someone."

"Exemplary" lake visitor Tom McLaurin appreciated seeing the officers.

"It's just dangerous to be out here with people who are unaware or they can't swim people that aren't really aware of boat safety and you combine it with alcohol. It's trouble,” he said. "It's good that the police are present. We certainly don't mind being pulled over."

Officers warn just as you get a safe driver on the lake, make sure you have a designated driver on the way home.
DWI officers will be doing enhanced enforcement the entire month of July. Warrants will be issued for your blood.