PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) will enhance its efforts to target removal of impaired watercraft and off-highway vehicle (OHV) operators from Arizona’s recreation areas through a partnership with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
AGFD was awarded nearly $46,000 in grant funding for officers to target DUI/OUI offenders on the state’s waterways and those riding OHVs. In addition to funding overtime for increased DUI/OUI patrols, officers will also target helmet, seat belt and child restraint compliance when required while riding in a UTV, an ATV or motorcycle.
“AZGFD has a strong relationship with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, which has always supported our efforts to keep our waterways and recreation areas safe for families to enjoy Arizona’s beautiful landscapes,” said Tim Baumgarten, AZGFD boating law administrator. “Safe recreation means taking care of your friends or family by designating a sober operator and wearing proper safety equipment, including a life jacket while on the water and a helmet when on trials.”
Drowning was the reported number-one cause of death in approximately 76 percent of 626 boating fatalities in 2015 and alcohol use was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents nationwide, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s most-recent statistics. Additionally, approximately 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
In Arizona, anyone under 12 years old must wear a life jacket while aboard and the vessel must have one life jacket available for every passenger. Those under 18 years old riding an ATV, UTV or motorcycle are required to wear a helmet.
In addition, under the grant funding, AZGFD will deploy its cadre of drug recognition experts to assist in the DUI/OUI checkpoints statewide. This will allow officers to perform additional enforcement without taking manpower and funding away from other AZGFD patrol responsibilities.