Drunken Boaters Win A Night In Jail
After being arrested, handcuffed and booked into the Clark County Detention Center for operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, there are at least five boaters who will think twice about drinking alcohol the next time they go boating. The five boaters were arrested during an OUI checkpoint held recently at Lake Mead. OUI is the boating equivalent of DUI on the highway.
“Water is really what people should be drinking when they come to the lake,” said Lt. David Pfiffner, game warden supervisor for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the state’s safe boating agency. “Alcohol actually speeds up the dehydration process, especially when it is so hot, and can lead to boating accidents and other safety issues.”
The OUI checkpoint was a joint effort that included game wardens from the Nevada Department of Wildlife and Arizona Department of Game & Fish, and rangers from the National Park Service. These checkpoints are designed to specifically target boat operators whose blood alcohol content is above the legal limit of .08. Officers checked 142 vessels during the checkpoint and wrote 28 citations for other boating violations in addition to making the five arrests.
The three law enforcement agencies conduct several OUI checkpoints each summer. They are part of the agencies’ ongoing efforts to improve safety on local waterways by reducing the number of drunken boaters who are operating on the Colorado River system, which includes Lake Mead, Lake Mohave and Lake Havasu. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, drunken boaters are 10 times more likely to die in a boating accident than a non-drinker.
Other violations for which citations were written include having an incorrect number of life jackets for people on board the vessel, lack of required fire suppression equipment in serviceable condition, and failure to carry a Type IV throwable cushion.
For boaters who plan to enjoy the water this summer, NDOW offers the following safe boating reminders. Never operate your vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. All vessels except sailboards must have at least one Type I, II, or III personal flotation devices (PFD), of the correct size, for each person on board. Vessels 16 feet or longer must carry one Type IV PFD – a square throwable cushion — and if your boat is longer than 26 feet you must have a 30-foot throwing line attached. Children under 13 must wear a PFD whenever the vessel is underway.
All PFDs, or life jackets, must be U.S. Coast Guard approved, in good serviceable condition, readily accessible and of the proper size for the intended wearer.
More information about boating safety and related classes can be found online at www.ndow.org.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. For more information, visit www.ndow.org.