Lake Havasu City Police officers will be out in force alongside Mohave County Sheriff’s deputies in an effort to curb DUI and OUI offenses on Lake Havasu this Labor Day weekend.
Drunk driving accidents kill an average of 10,000 people nationwide every year, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The number of DUI deaths has declined in the past three decades, but holiday weekends in Lake Havasu City can often pose a threat for residents as well as visitors. With tens of thousands of visitors expected this weekend, that threat is expected to escalate – and local law enforcement agencies are readying themselves to meet it.
“The police department schedules officers to work in the (Bridgewater) Channel and around the community in anticipation of the increased activity associated with holiday weekends,” said Lake Havasu City Police Sgt. Tom Gray. “Our community services unit and patrol officers will be using our boats, off-road vehicles and patrol vehicles to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Officers will provide enhanced DUI enforcement during the holiday weekend, thanks to a grant awarded by the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. According to Gray, police presence in areas of Havasu throughout the weekend will depend on the level of activity in those areas; and police supervisors will be able to adjust their manpower to address any potential incidents. In the event of major boating accidents, Gray says boating officers will be ready to provide assistance where needed.
“The Lake Havasu City Police Department will work with our surrounding law enforcement partners if there is an incident outside of the Bridgewater Channel where our assistance is needed,” Gray said. “Our dive team and boating officers train with surrounding agencies and are prepared to respond to any major incident on the water.”
One such partnering agency, the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, will have patrol boats stationed throughout Lake Havasu and the lower Colorado River. Deputies will be on the lookout for impaired boaters and other safety violations on the water, according to Mohave County Sheriff’s Communications Officer Anita Mortensen.
“There will be substantially more deputies on patrol on the Colorado River during the Labor Day weekend,” Mortensen said. “There will be patrol boats strategically placed along the river to maximize our exposure and reduce response times.”
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, people who plan to drink should plan a safe ride home before doing so, and choose a designated driver or boat operator in advance. The Administration says visitors and residents should avoid letting intoxicated friends drive, and to take advantage of shuttle or taxi services if available.
In the past five years, more than 20 deaths have occurred on Lake Havasu as result of boating accidents or accidental drowning. In every one of those incidents, the victims were not wearing life jackets or personal flotation devices.
“We constantly remind the public to boat safe, boat smart, boat sober and always wear a life jacket,” Mortensen said. “If these rules were followed in many of our past fatality cases, it is possible they would have turned out very differently.”
The Lake Havasu City Police Department advises visitors and residents to stay sober while driving or boating, and obey all traffic signs over the Labor Day weekend. Wearing a life jacket or personal flotation device is mandatory for any child under 12 on any vessel. Any person, of any age, is required to wear a life jacket while riding a personal watercraft under Arizona law.