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      Free boat inspections offered for boaters to avoid pricey fines

      The Department of Natural Resources inspected 22 boats over the holiday weekend. Four people out of those 22 avoided tickets with DNR's free inspections.

      Officials know a lot of people hit the water over holiday weekends, like the Fourth of July, so they informed boaters before they headed into the water about what they needed to have on board.

      "You need to make sure you have life jackets for everyone on board. You need to make sure you have a sound device, a bell or whistle. You need to make sure you have a fire extinguisher and the last thing you need to have is a throwable device," said Nate Hutson from the Department of Natural Resource.

      A free boat inspection only a takes a few minutes, but making sure you are properly equipped could help save your life and passengers on your boat.

      "You never know what can happen on the water. The most important this is be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Although you may not have had too much to drink the man next to you may have," said Hutson.

      People that were getting ready to put their boats in the water didn't realize DNR offered free inspections and took advantage of it.

      "They'll come by and say gosh I didn't know you all did this. And then right there they decide to have us look at their stuff because they don't want a ticket and they want to be right and they want to be safe and prepared," said Ronnie Floyd with the Department of Natural Resources.

      Failing to have all the required equipment on your boat could cost you up to $470 in fines.

      "Our intentions are to be here when they are here," Hutson said. "And so we want to get the word out and educate people and that we are not out here to just write tickets."

      DNR officials hope their presence around boaters, especially during holiday weekends, will help people make better decisions on the water.

      For more information about D.N.R's boating safety log onto their website.