Boating and Alcohol in Illinois

On August 15th two boats on the Nippersink Lake near the village of Fox Lake crashed and threw three boaters into the water. One had injuries that brought them to the hospital that Saturday night. Police suspect that both boat operators had been drinking. Lake County sheriff’s Sgt. Ed Harris said that a preliminary investigation has shown that the alcohol use by both driver’s played a factor in the collision. The boating accident is still under investigation.

This year alone there have been three deaths and over 1,000 tickets for operating a boat under the influence have been written over the past five years. Illinois’ current law states that anyone with .08 blood alcohol content is considered under the influence. This includes minors. Some states, including Wisconsin, have legislation that requires minor boaters to be completely sober to operate any recreational vehicles. Violations of this law leave the operator with a fine and that’s all. Illinois’ lakes and rivers seem to be getting out of control.

Senator Chris Lauzen and Representative Kevin Joyce have already pushed a bill through the Senate to help crack down on drinking and driving boats. This new legislation would tie DUI’s from boating and other recreational vehicles to the operators driver’s license. Police have been concerned that people who have been using alcohol and boating get into their cars and then drive home drunk. Officer Al Frank has found that many of the people he cites for violating boating laws also have active DUI’s on their record for driving.

New legislation would tie violations of Illinois law on boats and recreational vehicles to drivers’ licenses and vice versa. If a person had an active DUI for drinking and driving it would prevent them from using boats and snowmobiles, etc. This new law would allow the police to keep track of repeat offenders and hopefully stop them from being a menace on the lakes, rivers and roads.

Help support this legislation and keep the roads, rivers and lakes safe for all to use and have fun. Use a designated driver on a boat as you would on the road. Boating accidents can cause serious injury or death not to mention expensive property damage.