Impaired boating crack down: sign campaign aimed at Saint John River boaters

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WATCH ABOVE: A MADD Canada campaign is targeting impaired boating, and is being rolled out in partnership with the City of Fredericton and its police department. Global’s Jeremy Keefe reports – May 25, 2016

MADD Canada has partnered with the City of Fredericton and its police department on a campaign that encourages people to report impaired boating incidents.

Signs have been placed at three of the city’s boat launches, Morell Park, Carleton Park and the Regent Street Wharf advising anyone who witnesses an intoxicated person operating a boat to call 9-1-1.

“Fredericton’s very lucky to have the beautiful Saint John river behind us to enjoy,” said Public Safety Minister Stephen Horsman. “A lot of people are boating and we want to make it safe for everybody.”

“Drinking and boating, drinking and driving will not be tolerated,” said Horsman.

Fredericton police officer Steve Cliff says the more awareness brought to this issue, the better they’ll be able to enforce the law.

“Before people make the decision to go out they have to know that people are watching them,” said Cliff, who also works in Public Safety’s Marine Unit. “The more people who are watching…the more people that are inclined to not participate in that.”

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Cliff says anyone caught operating a boat while under the influence will be dealt with in the same way someone driving a car while intoxicated would be.

“We have prosecuted successfully people for impaired boating,” said Cliff.

MADD’s Director of Education and Awareness Kali O’Dell hopes the campaign will help get rid of the incorrect notion some have of boating.

“People might not think having some alcohol and driving a boat is actually dangerous,” she said. “But it’s just as likely that you’re going to hurt someone there as in a motor vehicle.”

O’Dell hopes the signs will help to empower people to do the right thing if the situation arises.

“It’s an emergency line so people don’t always think that it’s okay to call,” O’Dell said of calling 9-1-1. “But it totally is when it comes to impaired driving.”