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Coast Guard Steps Up Patrols For The Season's Busiest Boating Holiday

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) -- The 4th of July is one of the busiest boating holidays of the years, and for the Coast Guard that means stepping up patrols.

On Thursday the Kings Point, Long Island Coast Guard hit the water and started making stops early and often. They spent the day making sure everyone on the water obeyed federal laws, checked boating equipments, flares, fire extinguishers, and life jackets.

"It's too often that we have cases, the people are in distress and unfortunately don't have what they need," Coast Guardsman William Woodruff told CBS 2's Tracee Carrasco.

In 2012 the Coast Guard counted more than 4,500 accidents on the water resulting in more than 650 deaths and 3,000 injuries; alcohol is the leading cause of fatal accidents on the water, according to the Coast Guard and they were on the lookout for anybody who was boating under the influence.

"It's just like driving a car and drinking alcohol, it's not safe at all," Woodruff said.

As a result of a fatal 2012 accident in Oyster Bay the Coast Guard is also cracking down on boat capacities, that incident claimed the lives of three children.

The Coast Guard told CBS 2 that they plan to continue these safety checks throughout the rest of boating season. Boaters caught 'boating under the influence' could face fines, jail time, and a loss of boating privileges.

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