ABC officers step up patrols on Lake Norman over Memorial Day weekend

LAKE NORMAN — The unofficial start of summer and the freedom we’re finally feeling after the pandemic mean our lakes will be packed over Memorial Day weekend.

If you’ll be celebrating on the water -- you won’t be alone. Mecklenburg County Alcohol and Beverage Control officers alongside other agencies are stepping up patrol to help keep boaters safe during the celebrations.

“Water adds a whole new dimension if you’re intoxicated,” Mecklenburg County ABC CEO Keva Walton said. “The movement, the heat, the temperature, all accelerate and exacerbate the conditions.”

Walton’s officers are joining Davidson, Cornelius and the Coast Guard on Lake Norman this weekend to patrol the water.

They’ll be visible on patrol but also undercover at waterfront restaurants watching for anyone too impaired to drive a boat or a car.

The officers said they are trying to get people rides home, not arrested.

(WATCH: Memorial Day weekend feels like normal)

Officers told Channel 9 they received several calls Friday night. Those calls included 26 educational/community contacts, 7 boat stops, a boater assist, and 5 warnings.

This summer the officers are focusing on Lake Norman but hope to expand the operation to Mountain Island Lake and Lake Wylie.

North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission said the state had 134 boating accidents in 2019.

Alcohol played a part in several of the incidents, including 6 that were fatal.

Police hope coming out strong now will start the summer off safe and send a message to boaters to celebrate carefully.

(WATCH: Man drowns in tubing accident on Lake Norman, NC wildlife officials say