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Tips to stay safe on South Carolina lakes this season

As the weather begins to heat up here in South Carolina, many agencies are beginning to campaign for boater safety. So far, five people have died in boating-related accidents this year in the state. The most important thing recreational boaters can do to survive a boating accident is of course to wear a life jacket.

Parents are also being reminded to make sure that their children's life jackets fit correctly, and to remember that all children less than 12 years old are required by law to wear flotation device whenever they are on a boat. Some of South Carolina's lakes do rent life jackets at no charge. It is also important for Charleston residents to remember that boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is just as illegal in South Carolina as drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs.

Those who have been charged with boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be punished with a $200 fine or a minimum of 48 hours in jail, or public service. Subsequent offenses result in increased fines and jail time. Additionally, a conviction for boating under the influence may result in a driver's license suspension in addition to possible negative career consequences.

However, just like DUI charges, BUI charges do not always hold up when a qualified defense attorney is involved. Sometimes holes can be found in the evidence or in the circumstances surrounding the arrest, and a defense attorney can succeed in having charges or penalties dropped or reduced.

Source: GreenvilleOnline.com, "Be responsible on Upstate lakes," April 11, 2012

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