Mecklenburg ABC officers to patrol lake on July 4

Mecklenburg ABC officers to patrol lake on July 4

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Boaters are used to seeing wildlife enforcement officers on the lake, but Wednesday they can expect to see Mecklenburg Alcoholic Beverage Control law enforcement officers patrolling as well.

Mecklenburg County ABC Chief Michael Crowley said they started talking about getting their own boat for alcohol enforcement about a year ago.

"In the past couple of years, we noticed there was sort of an uptick in boating accidents where alcohol was involved and that's why we felt we needed to do some alcohol out here," said Crowley.

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Crowley said their boat has been out on Lake Norman for about a month and half now. Officers have already issued citations for underage drinking and drugs.

He said while beer and wine are allowed on boats, most people forget that hard alcohol is not. Hard alcohol is only allowed on boats that have a bathroom.

Crowley said they hope to continue that enforcement this week and five ABC Officers trained in wildlife will patrol the holiday starting Wednesday.

Sgt. William Laton, with North Carolina Wildlife Enforcement, said, "While we're looking at boating safety, those guys can really nail down the alcohol violations."

Laton said the extra set of eyes is coming at the right time. In June, a jet ski exploded on Lake Norman. On Sunday, the bodies of an uncle and nephew were found after their vessel capsized.

"It's great anytime we can get help enforcing law in the water," said Laton.

In addition to enforcement, ABC Officers will be handing out key chain-like flyers to educate the public on alcohol laws. The flyer also lists emergency contacts.

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