In a place like Sarasota, where people spend half of their time in the water, Sarasota Police Department make aquatic safety their top priority. More times than desired, boaters are not aware that they are endangering their lives and the lives of other people, and that they are breaking the law. For example, pulling a wake-boarder in the middle of the channel in Sarasota Bay is illegal as well as dangerous. "If a tourist falls in, a big vessel won't see her," Police officer Howell said of the wake-boarder. "They are not going to see the top of someone's head floating in the water, so it's a dangerous thing to do."

Howell was one of 30 officers out looking for irregularities among boaters on the third annual Marine Safety Inspection and BUI Checkpoint.

During last year's inspection, officers stopped 330 boats and found that more than half of the drivers were in violation. The majority of infractions dealt with lack or faulty safety equipment, high speeding and lack of appropriate registration. Some of the most common violations include not having on board the adequate number of life jackets, not having a throw able cushion, and having a faulty horn. Boaters need to know the required gear to carry as well as the technical requirements that their vessel need to meet to navigate in the sea.