Officials are keeping waterways safe for boaters on July 4th

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission patrols

STUART, Fla. - Dustin Jensen of Fort Pierce launches his boat from Sandsprit Park every fourth of July.

"We mostly go to the cove in Fort Pierce, but Stuart's a better party," he explained.

Jensen always comes prepared, with plenty of food and snacks.

"Cook up some frog legs, and we got some gizzards," he said. "We're gonna go out there and fry it all up today. "

Also on hand was a cooler filled with beer.

"Get my friends, and go out and party!" Jensen said.

So far this year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has reported 311 accidents and 174 injuries on the waterways, so every holiday they increase patrols in boats.

Mandy Phillips with the FWC said patrols are all over the Florida waterways on busy holidays.

"Major safety concerns, you have a lot of boats out here," she said, as she steered her boat around Peanut Island.

She said a mass of boats, plus one too many alcoholic beverages, can lead to accidents.

"Drunk boating is the same as drunk driving, it's 0.08," she explained. "If you are under the influence, you cannot be in operation of a vessel. "

She said law enforcement patrols stay on high alert in popular spots.

"Sand bar areas, boating areas, to make sure that everybody has a safe day," said Phillips.

Jensen always looks forward to a good time, but he makes sure he doesn't boat-under-the-influence.

"Fourth of July is definitely one of the biggest holidays out here on the sand bar," he said. "So we always have a sober one out of the eight of us. "

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