CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — You hear it all the time- don’t drink and drive. Normally, those who are warning you are talking about not being intoxicated while driving a car. But, Texas Parks and Wildlife said they are seeing a lot more boaters driving out on the waters while intoxicated.
Cliff Bost said he enjoys living in a boat while on the water. He said he has formed a camaraderie with fellow boaters that also enjoy the same experiences. However, during the pandemic he too has seen more people out on the water and some of them have been drunk.
“I haven’t personally experienced any of that. I’ve seen some intoxicated people here that were more dangerous to themselves than others,” Bost said.
Lerrin Johnson is a game warden for Texas Parks and Wildlife. She said the reason they have seen such a rise in boaters driving while intoxicated is because many of them are choosing to go outdoors more often during the pandemic because some indoor places are shut down.
She said patrollers on the water don’t necessarily stop boaters just because they may look drunk, but they will stop boaters for other safety measures.
“We are out patrolling the waters, making sure people have their safety equipment, life jackets, kill switch, things like that,” Johnson said.
She said if they see alcohol or smell it, that can lead to a citation. She said it is the same citation as if someone was driving a car while drunk, a class B misdemeanor.
“Boating while intoxicated is the exact same charge, just a different name, as driving while intoxicated. So the same level of penalties whether it’s your first one, third one so keep that in mind,” she said.
She said they tend to see more drunk boaters and accidents during holiday weekends. She said they patrol Padre Island and Port Aransas often because there’s a lot more boats there, especially around bars and restaurants where people can park their boat.
Jose Sanudio is a fisher from Beeville that goes out to Padre Island pretty often. He said he enjoys being out on the Island because it’s calm and said he doesn’t often see drunk boaters.
“In the morning it’s too early to drink I guess, but in the evening, I don’t think so. Most of these people are local and they’re very very friendly,” Sanudio said.