Florida Keys News
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Have a safe holiday weekend

Have fun this holiday, but remember to be careful, Florida Keys law enforcement agencies are telling the public.

The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for drunken as well as overly aggressive drivers.

"There tends to be a lot more traffic on the road because people are going to events," said Lt. Kathy McKinney. "Be patient and leave room in front of you."

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers are patrolling waterways such as Vaca Cut, Marvin Keys, and down to around Key West this holiday weekend, in addition to its "saturation patrol" in Islamorada.

Same as with a car, a .08 blood alcohol level will send boat drivers to jail. Officials suggest making plans for a designated captain before heading out.

Also ensure all boat lights are functioning ahead of time, and bring an additional high-powered light.

"It's a different world after dark on the water," said FWC spokesman Officer Bobby Dube.

Move slowly, Dube warned, because it's easy to collide with out-of-area boaters navigating unfamiliar channels.

Some local boaters avoid the Fourth of July water scene entirely.

"I'm not taking my boat out there," said Marathon live-aboard Anne Andrews. "There is a lot of crowding and irresponsible boaters."

But most look forward to the show anyway.

"It's a great time; it's not just fireworks -- they have music, food -- and the show is amazing," said Sean Cannon of the Marathon City Marina.

All personal fireworks, save sparklers, are banned in Key West.

The Key West Fire Department says it will stop illegal displays and urges all to enjoy the public display off White Street Pier instead.

"Remember, if it explodes or if it flies, it's illegal," said Key West Fire Chief David Fraga. "So we're encouraging everyone to just come out and enjoy the display being sponsored by the Rotary Club."

"The density of wooden structures on the island makes Key West a potential tinder box," the city noted in a press release, adding that even the public display would be dangerous if not set off over the water.

Holidays always bring heavier traffic on U.S. 1. A sheriff's deputy will direct traffic at Duck Key on Sunday to avoid the backups of Memorial Day weekend, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin said.

apress@keysnews.com

Alex Press, an intern with The Citizen, is a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

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