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East Texas law enforcement agencies beef up holiday patrols

By Richard Yeakley
July 3, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Whether on the water or on the roads, East Texas law enforcement agencies have increased patrols for Independence Day.

Todd Long, the Gregg County game warden who patrols lakes, said he would be on Caddo Lake today.

"We don't like writing citations, but if it keeps everyone else safe, then we will do so," Long said, "We are out here to have a good time and to help everyone else have a good time."

The East Texas agencies are acting as part of a statewide push to keep roads and lakes safe today.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is increasing its DWI patrols from June 30 through Sunday as part of a program to prevent alcohol-related crashes during high-risk times.

"There is the likelihood of an increased number of those who will be consuming alcohol and then try to drive," said Jean Dark, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. "Those two things don't mix."

Also, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department encourages holiday boaters to take extra care during Independence Day.

"Typically, we see more accidents on the three big summer holidays - Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends," said Lt. Cody Jones, of the Marine Enforcement Section for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "There are more people on the water and it's usually a party atmosphere. For some folks, these holidays are the only time they go out on the water all year."

Long said most holiday boating accidents are alcohol-related.

"We will be checking alcohol; we will be doing field sobriety tests just like those for a car," said Long, who warned against boating while intoxicated.

He added the other major problem for holiday boaters was that they were not familiar with their vehicle.

"Know your equipment and your safety equipment, but also operational rules and regulations... Also, it is mandatory for those born after Sept. 1, 1993, to take a boaters-education class if they want to operate a boat of more than 15 horsepower," Long said.



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