Wear a life jacket whether your plans involve boating or paddling, and stay safe and sober.
If your weekend plans involve heading out on the water, stay safe and boat or paddle responsibly by wearing a life jacket. It’s a simple step, but one that can be life-saving.
“Putting on a life jacket is the easiest step you can take to stay safe,” said Josh Hoffman, boating safety education coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD). “Whether you’re boating, kayaking or on a standup paddleboard, take the important step of wearing a life jacket.”
Wearing a life jacket not only provides immediate protection for the boater, but also may save an operator from receiving a citation. State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a life jacket while on board, and each passenger must have a properly fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket available.
Are paddlesports more your thing? Kayaks, canoes and paddleboards are considered watercraft, and users are legally required to have a wearable personal flotation device on board.
To increase safety for everyone on Arizona’s waterways, AZGFD officers are often on the lookout for reckless operators, passengers 12 and under who are not wearing a life jacket, and people operating a boat or watercraft while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Although the legal limit for operating a boat in Arizona is a .08 blood-alcohol concentration, an operator is in violation of the law and may be prosecuted for operating a watercraft while impaired to the slightest degree by alcohol and/or drugs.
So far in 2017 there have been eight fatalities on Arizona’s waterways, and alcohol was a contributing factor in half of them.
“The impact that being impaired by drugs and/or alcohol has on operating a boat cannot be overstated,” said Tim Baumgarten, AZGFD’s boating law administrator. “If alcohol is being consumed on your boat, designate a sober operator. This will help keep you safe and create a safer atmosphere for everyone enjoying a day out on the lake or river.”
Get more information about staying safe as well as instruction on trailering your vessel, navigational rules and legal requirements by taking a free boater or paddlesports education course from the AZGFD. Signup online at www.azgfd.com/Education/Boating/.