(Cleveland) - Fourth of July is all about cookouts, fireworks, family and friends.

Cuyahoga County DUI Task Force wants to remind Greater Clevelanders that fun and festivities on water or land can turn deadly if people mix drinking and boating or drinking and driving.

Drunk driving fatalities spike around Independence Day - 44% of fatal crashes over the July 4th weekend in 2012 involved alcohol.

Fourth of July is also the busiest time of the boating season in Northeast Ohio and those who spend the day drinking on a boat and return to their vehicles, pose a serious threat on the roadways.

"On holiday weekends like Fourth of July, when many people combine alcohol with family activities, we want to make everyone aware of the risks they're taking," said Chief Daniel Veloski of the Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Department, on behalf of the Cuyahoga County DUI Task Force.


(Photo by Ken Robinson / WTAM)

Metroparks Rangers Chief Daniel Veloski

"Fourth of July activities are often spread out over a longer period of time-a day out on a boat, or an afternoon at a family gathering-where people might not really think about how much alcohol they have consumed over the course of the day and how the effects of alcohol can be compounded by heat and dehydration." 

The Cleveland Metroparks Rangers are just one of the many agencies who will have an increased presence on the roadways throughout the holiday weekend.

In fact, all Cleveland Metroparks Rangers will be on duty on July 4th to handle the increased crowds at the parks. "Many people tune out the 'don't drink and drive' message because they know they aren't offenders. However, the truth is that impaired drivers are a risk to all families," says Veloski.

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