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by Steve McCadams

 There's really no official boating season as you can use your rig whenever you want. Maybe you start early in the year as a fishermen or get things going when it warms up for skiing, sailing or just plain pleasure boating.

 The boating season traditionally begins in earnest on Memorial Day Weekend, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July weekends are two of the biggest boating weekends of the year.

 The TWRA would like to remind boaters that once again wildlife officers will be patrolling the waters and will be watching for intoxicated boaters. "If you are caught boating while drunk, you will be arrested and charged with boating under the influence," said Ed Carter, the TWRA's Chief of Boating.

 Anyone operating a boat while intoxicated may be subject to fines and court costs that range from $250 to $2,500 for first offenses; $500 to $2,500 for second offenses; and $1,000 to $5,000 for third offenses.  In addition, boating privileges may be suspended and incarceration may accompany fines. "There is a mandatory 30-day jail sentence if you are caught a third time,"
Carter said.

 The designated driver system works on boats as well as in cars.  At least one member of the boating party should not drink and that person should operate the boat.

 Alcohol is believed to be a factor in more than 50 percent of the boating accidents that result in death. It induces fatigue and affects coordination and balance, and when combined with the motion and engine noise of the boat and the effects of sun, wind, and glare can be a deadly combination for someone on the water.

 Any intoxicated person is a danger on the water.  A moment of dizziness in a small, unstable boat can end in a drowning.

Steve McCadams
 is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing area and host of The Outdoor Channel's television series  IN-PURSUIT.