View Full Version : Beaver lake fun !

07-04-2002, 05:49 AM
I am posting this to see what others think.

Before moving here we kept a large boat at lake of the Ozarks, a lake that is known for partying and sees up to what some say is as many as 90,000 boats a day during holiday weekends and the shore lines are populated with restaurants and drinking establishments.

Every year we would witness at least one to two bad boating accidents involving alcohol, but I would bet that 90% of the boats on the water would at least have some beer in the cooler and in hand which would lead me to believe although a few would get out of hand, most would be responsible about drinking.

I for one think Sheriff Andy Lee's 'ZERO TOLERANCE' law is a bit extreme. If you read the article below you will see that, statistically beaver lake is well below the national average in boating/alcohol related accidents and the law seems to be hurting a lot of businesses associated with the lake.

Several people I know that would come down from Kansas City to enjoy beaver lake have decided it would be a lot less stressful to go to table rock instead so they can enjoy a beer or glass of wine while on the water and still be responsible.

What do you think?

In second year, lake’s alcohol policy irks some, pleases others

BEAVER LAKE — Benton County sheriff’s Deputy Mark Pitts was patrolling the Big Clifty area of this lake with another deputy and an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officer when he spotted something.
Two young men with a blue cooler were sitting on a bank.
"What’s he drinking?" Pitts asked another deputy, motioning at one of the men.
The deputies pulled their 22-foot deck boat closer to shore to get a better look. Pitts hopped out. "This gentleman is drinking beer," he said.
At Pitts’ suggestion, the two men poured out not only the offending open can of Budweiser, but also the rest of a 24-pack of Bud, three cans of Guinness and a half-full bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila.
"Is there some place we can go where it’s not illegal?" one of them asked.
Pitts handed the man a flier explaining the Benton County sheriff’s office policy in bold red letters. Drinking is strictly outlawed on or near the lake. Period.
"We’re not trying to be the bad guys here," Pitts told them. "We’re just trying to get a point across. Last year, we had a lot of deaths out here."
One year after a string of alcohol-related accidents on Beaver Lake, Benton County Sheriff Andy Lee’s zero-tolerance policy is still in effect.
From today, traditionally one the lake’s busiest of the year, until Sunday, deputies will step up patrols on the lake looking for violations of boating safety rules and of the state’s drinking-inpublic law, sheriff ’s office spokesman Tom Brewster said.
Those caught drinking on the lake are given a ticket that usually results in a fine of $25, plus court costs of up to $100, Pitts said. Deputies also threaten to seize the alcohol if the offender doesn’t willingly pour it out, he said.
Reaction to the policy has been mixed. Some boaters say it has made the lake safer. Others lament that they can’t drink a beer while fishing or relaxing in the sun.
Marina and cabin owners say the zero-tolerance policy has driven away some of the out-of-state tourists.
"It’s bad for business. It’s bad for public relations," said Jim Terry, who works at War Eagle Marina. "It’s cost us tremendously."
Nationwide and in Arkansas, the number of alcohol-related boating accidents has remained stable in recent years. Across the country, 215 people died in alcohol-related recreational boating accidents in 2000, the latest year for which figures were available, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The number was up slightly from 1996, when 190 people died in such accidents.
In Arkansas, five people died in alcohol-related boating accidents in 2001, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Eight people died in such accidents in 1996, according to the Coast Guard.
Boating while intoxicated is illegal in nearly every state, but few jurisdictions outlaw drinking on lakes altogether, said Bruce Schmidt, a Coast Guard statistician. He wasn’t aware of any other jurisdictions in the country where drinking on a lake is illegal.
Arkansas Code 5-71-212 prohibits drinking in any public place. Violating the law is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 and a sentence of up to 30 days in jail.
The law is strictly enforced in the 85 percent of Beaver Lake within Benton County. Benton County sheriff’s deputies also enforce the policy in some areas of the lake in Carroll County, such as Big Clifty and Hogscald Hollow, by bringing a Carroll County deputy or Game and Fish officer along in a patrol boat.
Washington County sheriff’s office deputies won’t make an arrest for drinking unless someone is driving a boat while drunk, which is a separate offense from drinking in public, said Cpl. Ricky Williams.
"If you’re just enjoying a beer, we’re not going to say anything," he said.
Three alcohol-related deaths in just over a week prompted Lee to start the zero-tolerance policy last summer. The deaths included Scott E. Robertson, 37, of Fort Smith and Michael R. Pringnitz, 27, of Rogers, who drowned June 16, 2001, after they were thrown from a speedboat near Rocky Branch Marina. Deputies found alcohol on the boat, and witnesses told them the men had been drinking just before the accident.
On June 24, 2001, Marcus Jones, 22, of Fayetteville drowned after he fell off a boat near the War Eagle Branch of the lake. A Game and Fish Commission report said Jones had been "drinking heavily" before the accident.
From June 18 through Aug. 5, 2001, Benton County deputies issued 66 tickets for drinking in public, seven for being a minor in possession of alcohol, two for public intoxication and one for boating while intoxicated, said Brewster, the sheriff’s office spokesman.
He said the policy is working. No one has died in an alcohol-related accident on the lake this year.
Angie Wheeler, 45, of Bentonville said the policy has made her feel safer about visiting the lake.
"This should be family-oriented out here," said Wheeler, who owns a barbecue restaurant and a courier service in Bentonville. "I don’t think alcohol and water mix."
Others said the laws should be enforced with more moderation.
Mike Cheval, a 46-year-old carpenter from Bethel Heights, said he and his wife like to pull into a cove after work, turn on the stereo and drink a beer. He said he sticks to the Washington County areas of the lake to avoid any trouble.
"There’s no beer in my boat now, but I don’t think I’d go up there" to Benton County, he said. "I don’t know how I’d react if a deputy pulled up and asked if he could look for beer in my boat."
Business at the Prairie Creek Marina dropped "substantially" after the policy went into effect last year, said manager Paul Davis. He said he received calls from people in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma wanting to know if they were allowed to drink alcohol. When they find out about the policy, they usually decide to go someplace else, Davis said.

07-04-2002, 05:55 AM
JF, The real zero is Mr. Lee. Just a few more months and he is gone. YEA!!!

07-04-2002, 06:24 AM
Well...we're back to the old point of a law being on the books (AR code 5-71-212 prohibits drinking in any PUBLIC place) and people wanting to bend it to suit their needs, such as it's ok to drink on a lake, at the lake, etc., but you better not be sitting in your car drinking a beer or two in my neighborhood where my kids play outside. Should the police enforce laws on the book or not those that might adversely affect business? If it's an unpopular or useless law, lobby your people in power to repeal or ammend it.

Operating a boat or jet ski after a couple of beers (legally drunk) is scary enough for those of us watching, but few seldom stop at just two and then they're in their car or truck driving on that curving road back into town for more supplies or on their way home still under the influence. It is scary driving at Beaver Lake on the "high water holy days" of summer when most have been paying homage to Bud. I would love to hunker down in my sty, but I have to go into town to work.

As for the TWO guys on the lake drinking beer with a cooler full of 24 beers, 3 cans of Guiness and a half full bottle of tequilla, one can only surmise it was purely for medicinal purposes....you know how many snakes there are out at the lake.

just wondering
07-04-2002, 06:51 AM
I am sure those against zero-tolerance need to get on board with pilots that had a few beers a couple of hours before.

07-04-2002, 12:38 PM
I really do not care one way or another, but
one day when I was out at the lake some people pulled their boat over where I was at
and began a conversation, in the course of this conversation they mentioned they were from Kansas city (maybe your friends) and how
beautiful our lakes are...then as they begin
to take off....empty all of their half empty
beer cans into the lake.....this frustrates
me more than drinking and driving a boat...unless of course someone gets hurt..its seems to be happening more and more
So maybe zero tolerance is the way to go.
I guess it does matter to me!!!!

07-04-2002, 06:34 PM
This afternoon, an 18 year old drowned at Beaver Dam.

07-05-2002, 04:42 AM
For the record, The eighteen year old drown in the morning and wasn't boating or alcohol related. He was at the swim area near the dam. That comes from a fish and game official.

I guess we could say that going to a restaurant or bar and having a few would be the same thing!

Should we have a 'ZERO TOLERANCE' on people leaving bars? or on people that have been to a friends house and had a drink or two?

I don't promote drunkiness but I do think people should be allowed to enjoy at legal levels. People that are camping aren't even allowed to have it either.

Just a bit extreme in my opinion!

I have sent emails on this subject!

[This message has been edited by jf501 (edited 07-05-2002).]

07-05-2002, 05:24 AM
JF501-I agree completely...fines for open alcohol on Corp of Engineer controled land and water can be as high as $750 to start.

Becky Davis
07-05-2002, 06:45 AM
Unfortunately there are few and far between responsible drinkers on the lake.
I consider boating and skiing pretty much a luxury. You would think that most wouldn't want to get drunk and cause injuries.
But I guess drunk drivers on the road do not either.
I would bet my hat that almost all boating accidents involve alcohol. Any statistics there?

Becky Davis
07-05-2002, 06:48 AM
Of course I guess a few could be new drivers. When I first parked a boat, I gave everyone a pretty good teeth rattling. No one told me to slow down a lot sooner than I did. Thought it was like parking a car.
I was a tee totaler then.

07-05-2002, 07:00 AM
Sorry jf, didn't mean to start you off there by implying the kid had been drinking or was on a boat. It was just a statement of another death on the lake. It seems there have been a lot of them lately and I'm not nit picking on how many have been drinking or not, just that there was another death, another broken hearted family whose lives are changed forever on what should have been a fun-filled happy holiday.

07-05-2002, 07:11 AM
Correct Becky..so many jet skiers are finding more lakes that are banning them all together due to iresponsible behavior and being an overall nuisance and not being operated by people who should be considerate of others on the water.You can see the same problem on the roadways now,and it is not always the young operators that are the problem.

frumious Bandersnatch
07-06-2002, 09:55 AM
ninety thousand boats in lake of the ozarks? really? galveston bay can not hold 90,000 boats!