The busy season has begun for the Louisiana Division of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) as traffic on the state's waterways increases. It can be easy to forget that driving a boat requires the same focus and attention that is required when driving a car. Every year, boating accidents occur, and some of them result in serious injury or death.
During the summer, two of the four tasks that the LDWF perform most often are investigating boating accidents and finding impaired boat drivers. In many instances, the presence of LDWF officers will deter boaters from driving while intoxicated. For those who drink and drive anyway, the number of patrols searching for impaired drivers increases later in the day.
If boaters are driving in a reckless manner or at excessive speeds, they are stopped. A sobriety check is conducted, and if a driver is suspected of being impaired, he or she is arrested. The hope is that if LDWF officers get impaired drivers off the water, they will not end up investigating serious or fatal boating accident concerning those individuals. In addition to the same questions that are asked at any other vehicle accident, there is always the concern that someone could be lost in the water, which could also require search and rescue efforts.
Victims who suffer serious injury or the families of deceased victims retain the right to file civil actions in a Louisiana court regardless of whether any criminal charges are filed in connection with the investigation. Establishing that the negligence of another party led to the crash could result in the consideration of an award of damages by the court. Any restitution ordered could help pay the expenses and other damages associated with the accident.
Source: louisianasportsman.com, "Take summer boating seriously", Keith Lacaze, June 23, 2016