LAKE HAVASU, Ariz. — With the recreational boating season in full swing, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will conduct a multi-agency sobriety checkpoint at Lake Havasu and area lakes as part of a statewide crackdown on those boating under the influence.
The checkpoint and patrols are being done to ensure boat operators are sober and to act as a reminder that operating a watercraft under the influence (OUI) is the most common contributing factor to injuries and fatalities on the nation’s waterways.
“Arizona’s waters can be fun for the whole family, but only if it’s done safely and responsibly,” said AZGFD Boating Law Administrator Tim Baumgarten. “Using alcohol or drugs can impair a boater’s judgement, vision and reaction time, and can increase a person’s willingness to take unnecessary risks. An impaired operator is 10 times more likely to be involved in a collision than someone who is sober.”
The effort is part of Operation Dry Water, a national awareness and enforcement campaign being done in partnership with AZGFD, Arizona law enforcement agencies, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the U.S. Coast Guard. The operation runs Friday, June 24 to Sunday, June 26.
As part of the national campaign, boaters and watercraft users on Lake Havasu and other Arizona lakes will be subject to systematic safety inspections. Operators will also be screened for alcohol and/or drug impairment and to ensure that proper safety equipment, such as life jackets, throwable rescue devices and working fire extinguishers, are on board.
“Our goal is to promote safe and enjoyable boating on our waterways. By doing so, we hope to prevent the next tragic alcohol-related incident on the water,” Baumgarten added. “If you plan to drink on the water, please designate a sober operator.”
The patrols at Lake Havasu are part of a statewide effort among law enforcement agencies to increase public safety by targeting impaired operators. While on the water, boaters should also keep in mind:
- State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a life jacket while onboard and that each passenger must have a properly fitting, Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Drowning is the most common cause of death in boating incidents, always wear your life jacket.
- Anyone being towed by a boat or on a personal watercraft, such as a Sea Doo or Jet Ski, must wear a life jacket.
- Know the “Rules of the Road,” navigation rules identify who has the right of way and determine the required direction of travel.
- Never allow passengers to board or swim while the engine(s) are running. A boat’s propeller can still be spinning while the motor is in neutral.
- Before starting the boat’s engine, walk to the stern to make sure no one is near the propeller.
- Take extra precautions around other boats towing skiers and/or tubers.
- Never reverse a boat to pick up someone out of the water.
- Paddle boards, kayaks and canoes are each considered watercraft and operators are required to have a wearable PFD on board while on the water. Furthermore, these watercraft must also follow the same laws pertaining to all motorized boats and watercraft.
It’s also recommended that all boat operators and passengers complete a boating safety course. For a list of courses hosted around the state, please visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.