State water patrols increasing as Fourth of July holiday nears

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Trooper Chad Dyer patrols Wilson Lake as boating increases before the upcoming holiday weekend. (Carter Watkins / WHNT News 19)

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – With the Fourth of July holiday weekend fast approaching, people are making plans to hit the water for some outdoor fun.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency wants everyone to enjoy the holiday, but take some precautions to stay safe as well.

He could have the best job in law enforcement, but patrolling Wilson Lake day in and day out for Trooper Chad Dyer can be challenging, especially when there’s a holiday weekend coming up.

“There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with it, and a lot of times people will forget because they are out there having a good time and they’re just not thinking of what can go wrong,” explained Dyer.

One of the biggest problems Dyer sees almost daily is operating a boat under the influence. State law allows open containers of alcohol on a boat as long as the county they are operating in is wet.

But with so much traffic on the waterways, Dyer said boaters should have a designated licensed operator to drive everyone around.

“Being able to designate that driver, keeping everybody safe, helps everybody,” Dyer stated. “And that is one of the man things we want to try and get people to understand.”

And even though the law allows it, Dyer strongly urges people not to shoot fireworks from a boat.

“If you have gasoline vapors on-board your boat that is ignited by your fireworks, now you can have a boat explosion and a fire that can put over people at risk,” Dyer explained.

And Dyer urges everyone to take their time when operating boats after dark, especially if they are unfamiliar with the channel they are operating in.

State law requires a life jacket to be accessible for everyone on board a boat while it’s being operated. It also requires a life jacket must be worn at all times by children under the age of 8.

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