Regulations provide quick answers to boating equipment needs

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona Department of Public Safety, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and Lake Havasu City Police Department recently conducted an OUI and Safety Checkpoint at Site Six on Lake Havasu. While 34 percent of boaters had consumed alcohol, the top violations could have easily been avoided by having the required safety equipment.

Eight OUI arrests were made: two for operating a boat while being impaired and six for exceeding the Arizona legal limit of .08 blood-alcohol content. In addition, three citations were issued for underage consumption.

Overall, 55 percent of the 181 vessels checked were in safety compliance per state boating regulations. The most common violation was not having a Type IV throwable personal flotation device; 31 boats inspected did not have this safety device on board. Additionally, 27 boats were missing or did not have a functioning fire extinguisher.
Jodi Niccum, law enforcement program supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Yuma office, said it is easy for boaters to avoid such citations. “Take a quick look at the regulations, which are free at our offices,” she explained. “Make sure you are operating a boat with the required safety equipment before leaving the dock. There are a lot of potential dangers, not the least of which is the sheer number of boats using a limited amount of space.”

Niccum expressed concern with the fact that 34 percent of operators had consumed alcohol. “Alcohol and the heat are always a dangerous combination, regardless of blood-alcohol content,” Niccum said. “Just as with driving, boaters should assign a designated operator. Game and Fish also offers free boating education, which covers safety issues, regulations, and the required equipment prior to launch.”

Other violations at the checkpoint included five boats with insufficient life jackets, five with expired registration, five with a child under 12 not wearing a life jacket, and nine citations written for boaters not following the navigational rules.

For those interested in taking a boating education class, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.

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