by: THP Lt. Jon Officer

People operating boats while intoxicated may endanger people enjoying Memorial Day weekend on Percy Priest Lake and boat ramps, a Rutherford County Traffic Safety Task Force member said.

That’s why law enforcement officers will patrol those recreational areas to prevent impaired boaters from impacting water recreation activities Saturday, May 29 on the lake and boat ramp areas, said District 21 Sgt. Matt Brian of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and a task force  member.

Like impaired drivers, boaters who are impaired by drinking alcohol run the risk of putting other people in danger by slower reaction times, Brian said.

Operation Poseidon II will launch boats about 1 p.m. for a seven-hour tour with teams of troopers, TWRA officers and law enforcement officers enforcing Boating While Impaired and DUI laws at county waterways, Fate Sanders and Stewarts Creek boat ramps and the Jefferson Springs Recreation Area.

The event is part of 2021 National Safe Boating Week May 22-28.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Brenna Smith, who is coordinating the event, said the dangers of drinking and driving and drinking and boating can be deadly, especially during the crowded holiday weekend.

“The goal is to promote public safety on the roadway and water to reduce impaired driving/boating as well as any fatal crashes involving impaired drivers,” Smith said.

Brian reminded boaters to look out for other boats, be respectful and give space to other boaters and wear life jackets.

THP Lt. Jon Officer urged drivers to avoid drinking and driving while driving to and from the waterways and while boating.

“We want everyone to be safe,” Officer said.

Besides the enforcement, task force members will distribute pamphlets and other boating safety materials from a tent set up near the Smyrna Police’s Mobile Command Post at the Fate Sanders Boat Ramp at 3157 Weakley Road in Smyrna.

The task force started Operation Poseidon two years ago to prevent BUIs and DUIs. Task force agencies participating this year include the THP, TWRA, Tennessee Highway Safety Office, Smyrna Police Department and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.