Game and Fish: Boat safe, boat smart, boat sober
PHOENIX -- Arizona Game and Fish Department officers will have an enhanced law enforcement presence to keep our waterways and forest roads safer this summer, thanks to grant funding from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS).
Game and Fish officers will conduct and participate in multi-agency task force and saturation patrol efforts, looking for persons operating their OHVs, ATVs and watercraft under the influence (OUI) of drugs or alcohol. Additional targeted patrol efforts have been made possible by overtime grant funding provided by GOHS. The funding also enabled the purchase of breath testing instruments that will be issued to officers and used during these operations.
"GOHS Director Alberto Gutier has always been supportive of our efforts and recognizes the public safety dangers of impaired operation of any recreational vehicle, as well as the importance of passenger safety regulations, including helmets and lap belts for OHV users," said Tim Baumgarten, the law enforcement programs coordinator for Arizona Game and Fish.
Together with county sheriffs' offices and federal law enforcement agencies, Game and Fish officers will be on the lookout for OHV and watercraft operators violating passenger safety who are found to be operating while impaired or above Arizona's DUI/OUI legal limit of a .08 blood-alcohol concentration.
During these patrols, OHV users and boaters may be required to pass through a checkpoint and be subject to a systematic safety inspection. Operators will be checked for any sign of impairment from alcohol or drugs, and officers will ensure the operator has the required safety equipment, such as helmets, lap belts, life jackets and working fire extinguishers, where applicable.
"Our main goal is to raise public awareness so people who are enjoying Arizona's forests and waterways do so safely and responsibly, and to help prevent an avoidable incident that may have a tragic outcome," said Baumgarten. "Nationally and in Arizona, alcohol is the number one contributing factor to all boating fatalities."
Baumgarten pointed out that people who consume alcohol and operate a boat are ten times more likely to be involved in a boating collision because of reduced inhibition, inattention, taking more chances and seeking more thrills.
Before heading out, OHV users and boaters should review all laws and regulations prior to unloading. OHV/UTV users should make sure all passengers use their lap belt; passengers under 18 years of age must wear a helmet. Watercraft users should make sure to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved lifejacket for every individual onboard and that everyone 12 years and younger is wearing a life jacket.
Boats must also have a working fire extinguisher and a type IV throwable personal floatation device (PFD) on board.
For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a boating safety course (some are free, some involve a fee), visit www.azgfd.gov/boating. For more information on off-highway vehicle recreation in Arizona or to find information on OHV safety courses (most involve a fee), visit www.azgfd.gov/ohv.
Did you know?
The Arizona Game and Fish Department receives NO Arizona general fund tax dollars? We hold the state's wildlife in trust for the public without a dime from Arizona taxpayers. https://azgfdportal.az.gov/Agency/Funds