May 26—With one of the biggest boating holiday weekends of the year, the Department of Natural Resources and Hall County Fire Rescue's marine rescue team will have extra personnel out on the lake.
Sgt. Tim Butler, the Department of Natural Resources field supervisor for Lake Lanier, said DNR plans to run four boats with eight officers each day of the weekend, checking for things such as moving violations, reckless behavior, flotation devices and running lights when it gets dark.
Butler said many boating incidents on the lake could be avoided if boaters stayed sober.
"Unfortunately, we see a lot of impaired drivers on Lake Lanier," Butler said. "A lot of our accidents would be avoided if we just had a sober driver."
"Anytime we stop a vessel, any indication that somebody's impaired, we're on the lookout for that, too," Butler said. "We have zero tolerance on impaired drivers."
According to DNR as of Tuesday, May 23, there have been 13 drownings statewide in 2023 and one drowning on Lake Lanier. While there have been five boating fatalities statewide this year, none have occurred on Lanier.
"Wearing a personal flotation device that properly fits is essential when enjoying the water," according to Hall County Fire Rescue. "This includes boating, swimming, and enjoying jet skis."
Georgia law requires children under the age of 13 onboard a moving vessel to wear a flotation device.
The 100-foot law requires boaters to stay at an idle speed when within 100 feet of any vessel "which is moored, anchored or adrift outside normal traffic channels," according to DNR.
Hall County Fire Rescue said its marine rescue team will be out on Lake Lanier on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays between now and Labor Day weekend from 10 a.m. until sunset depending on lake traffic.
"While patrolling the waterways, the team will discuss and hand out water safety materials and messaging throughout the summer," according to the fire department. "Boaters should be aware of their surroundings, drink responsibly and have all safety equipment ready."
Incidents — 30
Fatalities — 5
Injuries — 8
BUI — 23
2023 Lake Lanier
Incidents — 4
Fatalities — 0
Injuries — 2
BUI — 8
Source: Department of Natural Resources