Utah officials crack down on DUI among boaters

Posted at 10:21 PM, Jul 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-06 00:21:26-04

UTAH COUNTY – There is a lot of awareness regarding driving a car while intoxicated, but officials in Utah want people to know that driving a boat while impaired is also a serious issue.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said DUI laws apply to more than just cars.

“We want people to be aware that anything you can drive, you can be DUI in,” he said.

Signs at Utah Lake warn people against the danger of boating while drunk, and it’s all part of an effort to keep people safe.

"There's a time and a place for alcohol, and when you're driving a boat or driving a car or any other kind of vehicle: That's not the time to be using alcohol,” Cannon said.

It is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in an automobile, but that’s not the case in a boat. Open containers can be present, but the driver of the boat cannot drink, nor can passengers who are underage.

Ty Hunter is the boating program manager for Utah, and he said people should be conscious of their decisions.

"If you are going to have a drink, or a few drinks, you need to be cognizant, have that designated driver,” he said. “That designated driver is not the most sober one in your bunch, it's the one that has not had any at all for the day."

During the summer months of 2013, police in Utah made nearly 4,000 arrests for driving under the influence. Officials with the Utah Highway Patrol said that over the last 10 years, the Fourth of July weekend has been among the deadliest holiday weekends of the year.