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AZGFD to step up patrols over holiday weekend, promote sober boating   

Posted June 30, 2022

Operation Dry Water initiative aims to reduce alcohol-related accidents, fatalities 


PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and partner agencies will be patrolling Arizona’s waterways over the upcoming holiday weekend to provide heightened enforcement and awareness about the dangers of drinking alcohol while boating. 

Once again, AZGFD will be participating in “Operation Dry Water,” a national boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign. The goal is to reduce the number of alcohol and/or drug-related fatalities and accidents by spreading this important message to the public: Drinking and boating is a potentially deadly combination. 

“Our top priority is to create a safe environment for everyone who is out enjoying Arizona’s waterways,” said Danny Rodriguez, AZGFD’s watercraft law administrator. “If alcohol is being consumed on your boat, always designate a sober operator.” 

During last year’s Operation Dry Water campaign, nationwide, more than 114,000 boats were stopped and 638 arrests were made for boating under the influence.

“It’s no different from driving a car on the highway; the operator is responsible for everyone on board the boat,” Rodriguez said. 

While the main focus of the campaign is geared toward those who operate a boat under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, officers may also give warnings and write citations for other issues, including operation, fire extinguisher and life jacket violations. Arizona state law requires that children 12 and under must wear a life jacket at all times while the boat is underway, and there must be one life jacket on board for every passenger. In addition, a throwable flotation device, usually a cushion with handles or a ring buoy, is required for all watercraft longer than 16 feet (except for canoes and kayaks).

Operation Dry Water was launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard. The initiative is credited with removing more than 4,000 impaired operators from the nation’s waterways. 

AZGFD has been an Operation Dry Water partner since the beginning. “Anything that helps to prevent fatalities and injuries in Arizona is a valuable investment of our time and resources,” Rodriguez said. 

In 2019, the Coast Guard reported that alcohol was the top contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, and that sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion of the boat can intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications.