- Associated Press - Friday, July 4, 2014

PROVO, Utah (AP) - For anyone spending the holiday weekend on Utah’s waterways, law enforcement officials have a reminder: State residents and others can be arrested for driving under the influence while piloting boats or other watercraft.

Some people don’t realize it’s dangerous and illegal to drive a boat while intoxicated, Utah Highway Patrol trooper Lawrence Hopper said.

The state is joining a national push this summer to cut down on drinking and boating. Last weekend, officers from a number of state and national agencies handed out about 430 citations and warnings to boaters, according to a statement from the agencies.

They talked to about 2,000 people on rivers, lakes and other waterways throughout the state, and they arrested two people on suspicion of boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“Our goal is to educate boaters,” Ranger Brody Young said in a Thursday statement. Nationwide, officers involved in the Operation Dry Water project arrested about 300 people for boating under the influence.

Alcohol is the main factor in deaths among recreational boaters and their passengers, according to the Division of Utah State Parks and Recreation.

Adult passengers are not forbidden from drinking alcohol on a boat, the officials say. But the boat’s operator, they warn, cannot consume or even have alcohol within reach.

Utah State Park ranger Brody Young told the Deseret News (http://bit.ly/1jKQto3) authorities will test a boat operator if they spot an open container nearby.

In a typical summer, state park rangers say they arrest anywhere from 20 to 40 boaters for operating under the influence. The blood alcohol limit for operating a boat is 0.08 - the same limit for driving a car.

In addition to the state parks, the Utah Division of Wildlife, the National Park Service and the sheriff’s offices in Weber and Box Elder counties carried out the national campaign in Utah.

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Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com

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