Stricter Penalties Sought For Boating While Intoxicated

March 10, 2014

Arizona is trying to strengthen its laws against people who operate a boat or jet ski while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A bill in the legislature would automatically fine boaters who refuse to take a blood or breath test.

Right now, anyone suspected of operating a boat while drunk can refuse a breath or blood test without a penalty. But, the measure would require sheriff’s deputies and Game and Fish wardens to fine boaters more than $1,200 if they refuse to take the tests in the future. 

Alberto Calderon is with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s lake patrol unit. He said it’s a good deterrent.

"They’re probably going to think twice about it if this does go into effect. $1,250, that’s almost twice as much as a first offense OUI, $1,300 plus $1,200, so that’s double if you refuse," said Calderon. "And that’s a lot of money."

Last year, 130 people received citations in Maricopa County for “Operating Under the Influence.” Calderon said nearly a quarter of all boating accidents in the county are alcohol related. 

The bill has been approved in the Arizona House. It goes to the Senate next for a vote.