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U.S. Coast Guard to be out in full force Fourth of July weekend

15-knot speed limit enforced Saturday night to Sunday morning

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – U.S. Coast Guard officials plan to be out on the water in full force Fourth of July weekend.

Hundreds of boats are expected to line up to catch the fireworks display off Miami Beach, and the Coast Guard says its crews will be monitoring speed and making sure no one is boating under the influence.

The Coast Guard is enforcing a regulated navigation area with a 15-knot speed limit extending from Black Point Marina to the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

"Our objective with this speed restriction is to try to minimize any accidents that may happen for folks trying to get to and from the heaviest congested marinas," said Lt. Mike Cortese.  

Officials said the most dangerous time for boaters is after the fireworks display as people start racing back to the marina.

That's what happened last Fourth of July when four people were killed during a boat collision off Dinner Key Marina.

"That is something we are desperately trying to avoid, but we cannot do that alone. We need the help of the boating public to help us to make sure they do the right thing," said Jorge Pino of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

There will be about 30 Coast Guard units on the water making sure everyone is following the rules, including a boating under the influence task force.

"Being under the influence while boating is a completely different experience than it is in a car. Everything is dramatically changed when you're on the water," said Key Biscayne Police Chief Charles Press.

That 15-knot speed limit will start Saturday at 7 p.m. and last until 2 a.m. Sunday.

The Coast Guard asks boaters to make sure everyone has a life jacket, make sure someone knows where you are at all times and also make sure your navigation lights are working.

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