Revised on: 07.17.2018 at 10:34 a.m.
Posted on: 07.10.2018 at 04:39 p.m.
While police, deputies and troopers were cracking down in impaired drivers during the busy two weekends around July 4, Wildlife officers were making sure boaters were following the laws on the water as well.
In District Four, which includes Columbus County, a total of 147 boats were checked and 327 boaters contacted by Wildlife officers during the period, according t Ryan Kennemur, spokesman for the Wildlife Resources commission. Officers handed our 41 citations ranging from registration issues to personal floatation device violations. Warnings were issued to 55 boaters across the district, and 80 non-boating violations were served for violations such as littering, no fishing license, etc.).
This year marked the first in several with no boating accidents in the district, but early reports show a number of boating while impaired (BWI) citations were issued. Charges have been filed against three boaters so far for operating under the influence for the entire period, with the highest blood alcohol level at .11.
Two of those boaters were charged in Columbus County, both on July 5, according to arrest reports.
Johnathan Reynolds, 26, of 3979 Red Hill Rd., Whiteville, and Charles Thomas Butler Jr., 54, of 6399 Rough and Ready Road, Whiteville, were both taken into custody after safety checks on Lake Waccamaw. Both men were freed on $1,000 secured bond.
Operating While Impaired, often called boating while impaired, carries the same criminal penalties as driving while impaired charges. North Carolina is a national leader in operating while impaired cases, and was the first state in the nation to train Wildlife officers on how to detect illegal drug use as well as alcohol abuse.