Checkpoint Leads to Removal of Impaired Boaters

Proper equipment also critical to safety



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KINGMAN, Ariz. – In an effort to keep the Colorado River waterways safe for recreational boating enthusiasts, the Arizona Game and Fish Department was part of a multi-agency OUI (Operating Under the Influence)/Safety Checkpoint on Saturday.

The Nevada Division of Wildlife, National Park Service, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department conducted the effort, which resulted in seven operators cited for OUI (exceeding the .08 legal limit for blood-alcohol content), and one for aggravated OUI.

A total of 244 watercraft passed through the four-hour checkpoint at Katherine’s Landing and 67 citations were issued.

Twenty-seven percent of the boaters checked were not in compliance with equipment requirements and 31 percent had consumed alcohol.

“I’m disappointed with the number of boaters contacted who consumed alcohol,” said Tim Baumgarten, law enforcement program manager with the Game and Fish Department’s Region III office in Kingman.

Baumgarten noted that alcohol impairment was the fourth most common violation at the checkpoint. Not having a type IV throwable was the most common violation (28), followed by no fire extinguisher with 13, and insufficient life jackets with nine. Two citations were issued for consumption by a minor.

“I believe the operation was a success in that we removed impaired boaters from the waterway,” Baumgarten stated, “but people need to understand that recreation becomes potentially life threatening at these numbers.

“These are perfectly avoidable citations. The regulations are available for every boater to review and if you plan to drink, assign a designated operator. Boaters continue to choose to voluntarily drink alcohol and then operate a boat. There’s really no reason to be cited at a checkpoint.”

Overall, 73 percent of the boaters were in compliance with boating regulations in regards to operating a watercraft without being impaired by alcohol and proper equipment, a 3 percent decrease from 2008.

“Although a critical element, these checkpoints are not only about removing those under the influence,” Baumgarten said. “It’s crucial to have the proper equipment in case of an emergency. Falling overboard anytime, especially on the Colorado River, can become a life-and-death situation in a matter of seconds.

“These waterways are becoming increasingly congested and safety should be a concern for every person on the water.”

Additional multi-agency OUI checkpoints and patrols will occur on the Colorado River and its reservoirs throughout the boating season.

The Game and Fish Department encourages boaters to take part in a boating education class. Available classes can be found on the department web site, www.azgfd.gov/boating.

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