Arizona is known for vacation fun on water and on the trails. But where there are boats and ATVs, there is beer, and where there is beer, drunk driving is a distinct possibility. Operating a boat or off-highway vehicle (OHV) while drunk is not just a crime but extremely dangerous. Enforcement of OUI (operating under the influence) law in Arizona is the bailiwick of the Game & Fish Department.
The department just got a little better at enforcing those laws, thanks to a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS). The latter agency just gave Game & Fish a $20,000 grant to increase the patrols which catch people who drink while boating and while plying Arizona’s trails on ATVs and other OHVs.
Why OUI is Dangerous
While boating under the influence is rarely discussed, it’s a very dangerous activity. Because one is on a vast body of water without lanes or apparent traffic, many people regard boats just as toys or floating party venues. The wave action, sun, and wind increase the destabilizing effects of the alcohol. Some of the many ways that drunk boating kills on Arizona’s lakes and rivers:
- Nodding out and drifting into the path of other boats (some of whom might be full of people drinking as well)
- Swimming while drunk, which can end in disaster a number of ways
- The effect of drunk passengers, who can disrupt a driver’s concentration
ATVs: Not All Fun and Games
It’s not hard to count the dangers that come from being buzzed while buzzing around on an ATV. With a reduced sense of risk, bad judgment, and compromised reaction time, one can easily see why drunk driving on ATVs kills more than 250 people each year in Arizona.
The legal alcohol limit for boats and OHVs is the same as for cars in Arizona: .08. And the ways to avoid an OUI on a boat or a DUI on a small fun vehicle are not hard to figure out:
- On boats, designate a sober driver
- On OHVs, do not drink at all.
Otherwise, Game & Fish will be trolling for you this summer.