If you were dangling your feet over the bow of a boat during the Fourth of July weekend and caught the wrath of Maryland Natural Resources Police, you weren't alone.Roughly 500 tickets for over 6000 stops. Seems to me the recreational boating community is doing a pretty decent job of boating between the lines.
The agency put nearly all personnel — about 200 officers, commanders, investigators and police academy instructors — on the water and public lands from Deep Creek Lake to the Atlantic Ocean for bumped-up enforcement.
Here's a tally of what happened, according to the agency:
• 2,153 boat safety checks, 3,709 recreational anglers checked, 1,549 crabbers checked, 224 watermen checked.
• 526 tickets issued for various violations, including bow riding, excessive speed, insufficient number of life jackets, crabbing and fishing regulations, speeding in a state park and lack of boat safety equipment. The number of tickets issued was a six percent increase from last year.
• Of the tickets issued, 108 were written in the Greater Baltimore area.That's a high point.
• 15 boating accidents, including six in the Ocean City area.
• 12 "OUI" or operating while intoxicated arrests, also called "boating under the influence" in some states. Since 2009, Natural Resources Police have made 82 such arrests during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The increased enforcement is part of a national campaign called "Operational Dry Water" to reduce boating accidents due to drinking.
• No boating deaths. There have been three boating deaths so far in 2017. There were five at this point last year, which ended with 17 deaths. Traditionally, July and August are the deadliest months.
• At one point during the holiday weekend, Maryland's radar system counted more than 1,200 boats in the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay.Which is why I tend to stay off the water during holiday weekends.