SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) — In an effort to decrease the number of DUI’s both on and off the water this last holiday weekend, law enforcement officers joined forces as part of Operation Dry Water 2020.
Law enforcement contacted over 3,000 people during this year’s Operation Dry Water; which yielded a number of citations and arrests for alleged offenses like boating while intoxicated, possession of a controlled substance, open containers, and more, according to officials.
From July 3-5, 2020, rangers from the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation and additional officers from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Weber County Sheriff’s Office, Ogden City Police Dept., and the U.S. Forest Service set up multiple checkpoints at popular boating locations in northern Utah. While this was an area of concentration, officials say these types of operations and checks can occur anywhere throughout the state.
“Boating on Utah’s waters is a great way to have fun and relax with friends and family; however mixing alcohol and boating can be a recipe for disaster,” Utah State Parks Boating Program Coordinator Ty Hunter said. “Impaired boating is no different than driving a car. It decreases your situational awareness, reflexes, and decision-making skills. It puts those in your boat and those around you at risk.”
Officials say these stops and checkpoints occurred both on-the-water and on the roadways near these areas. When pulled over, both the operators and occupants are asked specific questions and given the appropriate tests.
For boats, safety checks are also conducted to ensure registration and the proper safety equipment are on board. This equipment can include but is not limited to: life jackets (one for each person), bailing devices, fire extinguishers, and more.
Life jackets are essential in Utah’s fight to prevent drownings, according to officials. They added that nationally, 80% of people who drowned in boating accidents would have survived had they been wearing a life jacket. This is one reason why ensuring boaters have them available is key.
“We cannot stress this enough,” Hunter said, “wearing a properly-fitting life jacket can save your life. We see incidents happen every year where the story could have had a very different ending. One death is too many.”
While passengers aboard a vessel are fine to drink alcohol, it’s important that they also remember they need to be under the legal limit and able to operate a motor vehicle if planning to drive home.
“Our goal at the end of the day is that recreators all return home safely,” Hunter said
For a full list of Utah’s boating laws and rules, and to learn more about life jackets, visit the Utah State Parks Boating Program website.
Below are statistics for operation Dry Water 2020 Stats
• Number of officers: 35
• Number of agencies: 5 agencies- DPR, DWR, WCSO, OPD, USFS, USFWS
• Locations: Deer Creek, Jordanelle, and Fred Hayes at Starvation state parks, and Causey Reservoir.
• People Contacted: 3051
• Vessels Contacted: 130
• Vehicles Contacted: 704
• Vessel Inspections: 110
• Citations Issued: 156
o DUI – 5
o Open Container – 12
o Minor in Possession – 6
o Possession of Marijuana – 25
o Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – 26
o Tobacco – 4o Firearms violation – 1
o Life Jackets – 14o Other Boating Violations – 26
o Other Vehicle Violations – 36
• FST’s (Field Sobriety Tests): 34
• Arrests: 6
• Impounds: 5
• Blood Draws: 5
• Ignition Interlock: 1