Authorities warn boaters about drunk driving over the Fourth of July weekend

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FISHERS, Ind. (July 2, 2015) - Hundreds of boaters are expected at Geist Reservoir over the Fourth of July weekend and authorities are emphasizing water safety.

FOX 59 went out on the water with the Fishers Fire and Police Departments Thursday morning as they prepare to monitor large crowds for the annual Blast on the Bridge fireworks show. Officers said their top concern for the holiday weekend is intoxicated boat drivers.

"We want people to understand the penalties are the same if you are boating while intoxicated as they would be if you are driving while intoxicated," said Lt. Mike Janes from the Fishers Police Department. "Even to the point that you will lose your driving privileges in the state of Indiana by doing that."

Janes said finding a designated driver for the weekend is essential.  According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is the number one contributing factor in boating accidents.

Capt. John Mehling from the Fishers Fire Department said he hopes to see boaters actually wearing their life vests.

"If something happens, and accidents do happen, and one of the kids goes into the water we want to make sure they can float," Mehling said.

There is an added concern this year regarding debris in the water after the above average rainfall in the area over the month of June.

"They need to keep a close look out for that," Mehling said. "It could hurt your boat. If you’re skiing, tubing it could puncture your tube. All things that could cause accidents and get people hurt."

In case of emergency, the police and fire departments have a specially-equipped boat at Geist that features sonar technology to help in the search for anyone who falls into the water."