HOT SPRINGS – Wildlife officers with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission noted a decline in the amount of citations during the Independence Day holiday this year. More than 2,350 boats and personal watercraft were checked during the national Operation Dry Water campaign to reduce boating under the influence. Officers issued 83 citations for boating violations and 314 warnings during the program. Only five arrests for Boating Under the Influence were necessary.
“We see a higher amount of boat traffic and alcohol use during this weekend than any other time during the rest of the summer,” said Capt. Stephanie Weatherington, Boating Law Administrator for the AGFC. “That combination of crowded waters and impaired judgement can lead to disaster during a time when everyone is enjoying the outdoors. So we try our best to make sure everyone comes home safely from their adventures.”
Weatherington says only a few minor accidents were reported during the weekend, none of which involved any life-threatening situations.
“The lower number of citations and accidents gives me hope that our message of responsible alcohol use while boating is being heard,” Weatherington said. “It’s just as easy to be involved in a deadly accident driving a boat while impaired as it is driving a vehicle. In some cases it can be worse because the sun and waves can amplify the effects of alcohol on the water.”
Weatherington offered a special thanks to the 108 wildlife officers who worked on Arkansas waters during the weekend.
“All of our officers act professionally and courteously to help ensure our holidays are remembered as fond memories instead of tragedy,” Weatherington said. “Even people who don’t have any alcohol in their boat can be impacted by someone else boating under the influence or operating a boat recklessly, so it’s critical that we continue having a presence during these high-traffic times.”