When it’s summer here in the desert of Arizona, one of the best ways to escape the heat is to head to one of the various lakes just outside of the valley. All summer long, lakes such as Canyon Lake, Lake Pleasant, Saguaro Lake and Bartlett Lake are full of boats and jet skis. They come with passengers ready for a day of skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and fishing or just staying cool in the water. Many of these people who visit the lake bring food, drinks and alcohol along with them.
It’s important to be careful when mixing alcohol and any motorized vehicle, even boats. Arizona has very strict laws in place that make it illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol. Much like a DUI, an OUI (Operating Under the Influence) carries with it stiff penalties, including jail time and heavy fines. Each summer, the State of Arizona Game and Fish Department works with other law enforcement agencies around the state to keep an eye for OUI offenders. Patrol boats are on regular duty throughout the day throughout the lakes.
One of the main reasons why the State of Arizona takes OUI’s so seriously is because of one grisly fact: More than 40% of fatal boating accidents in Arizona involve alcohol in one way or another. This number is actually down from a few years ago when alcohol played a role in over 50% of recreational boating accidents.
Much like DUI offenses, OUI’s can be categorized as aggravated and extreme based on the level of alcohol found present in the offender at the time of the incident and also how many previous offenses that person has had in the last 7 years. Penalties include jail sentences from 10 days to 4 months just for first time offenders. Repeat offenders can expect heavier sentences.
If you plan on heading to the lake sometime this summer and are taking alcohol with you, be sure to bring your “designated operator” or someone who won’t be drinking who can safely operate the boat. Secondly, bring the phone number of OUI attorney Charlie Naegle just in case. The best thing you can do if charged with an OUI is call an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney, like Charlie, will be able to work with you and guide you through the process. There are investigations and evidence to be examined that have a major impact on the outcome of your case.