Operation Dry Water underway to keep people safe on water this weekend

Multiple DGIF patrols out at Smith Mountain Lake Friday

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – A fun day on the lake for a group of tubers was interrupted Friday afternoon by a visit from Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Officer Brett Clawson and his partner.

“The reason we’re pulling up alongside you all is because the capacity on this PWC is three individuals. So the amount of individuals on the (personal watercraft) equals the amount of individuals that are allowed on the raft and the PWC. Right now, we have four," Clawson explained to the group. "The mindset behind that is, if they were to hit something or the tube popped, there’s only room for three individuals on board.”

Clawson said there are several signs he looks out for that indicate someone is being unsafe.

“We look for, mostly, reckless operation-type of tendencies. Individuals riding on decks and gunnels, riding within 50 feet of structures or other vessels, PWCs splashing each other within 50 feet of each other, anything that in danger’s life, limb, or property,” Clawson said.

Whether violators are issued a warning or a summons is up to the discretion of the DGIF officers.

"If you’re boating under the influence, it’s a class one misdemeanor, and of course the severity of the charges can differ depending on where you are,” Clawson said.

The group of tubers received a verbal warning.

"You see how busy it is out here today? Head on back in for me, have somebody hop off, then you enjoy the rest of your day, all right?," Clawson said to the tubers.

Clawson said the DGIF will be stepping up patrols throughout the rest of the summer.

For boating rules, click here.