As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, recreational enthusiasts across Utah will gather on our state’s waterways and off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails. With the increased public presence on both land and water, there is an upsurge in the number of incidents and fatalities during this time. From July 1 – 3, the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation will participate in the national Operation Dry Water heightened awareness and enforcement weekend. The division’s outdoor recreation rangers, as well as Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers and State Parks rangers, will educate boaters and OHV operators about safe practices, including sober operation.
Alcohol use remains the leading known contributing factor in recreational boater fatalities, as well as incidents involving OHVs. In the days leading up to the July 4th holiday, recreation rangers will be actively working to increase public awareness of the hazards associated with operating boats and OHVs under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Boaters and riders can expect an overall increase in law enforcement patrols on the waterways and trails.
“Boating and operating OHVs while impaired, continues to pose significant problems on Utah’s waterways and trails, and the tragedies that result from incidents involving impaired operators are entirely preventable,” said Chief Steve Bullock, Law Enforcement Chief of the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation. “Our division is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone recreating outdoors this holiday weekend. That is why our recreation rangers will be out in full force, working to prevent incidents, deaths, and injuries caused by operating under the influence.”
Operating a vessel on the water or an OHV on the trails while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and can lead to severe injuries, loss of life and legal consequences. In Utah, operating one with a blood alcohol content of 0.05% or higher is against the law. The Division of Outdoor Recreation reminds all boaters and OHV users to drive sober and to wear appropriate safety gear, such as life jackets and helmets, when on or around the water and trails.
Operation Dry Water is a year-round campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of boating and OHV operation while under the influence, in order to reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related incidents and fatalities. The expanded patrol operations and enforcement efforts will serve as a visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use both on the waterways and on OHV trails.
For more information about boating and off-highway vehicle safety and the risks associated with operating under the influence, visit recreation.utah.gov or operationdrywater.org.