Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police officers (CPOs) will be increasing their enforcement efforts on Illinois waters this Labor Day weekend, September 4th through the 7th. Illinois Conservation Police will be watching for boaters operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They will also be checking to make sure that proper safety equipment is present on boats, especially personal floatation devices (PFDs) or lifejackets.

Illinois boaters who are caught operating under the influence (OUI) face severe penalties. Under Illinois laws, operating under the influence (OUI) is a Class “A” misdemeanor for the first offense. It is punishable by a maximum of six months to one year in jail and/or up to $2,500 in fines.

According to IDNR Chief of Law Enforcement Rafael Gutierrez,” Accidents and fatalities on Illinois waters usually come down to a couple of things- people not wearing their life jackets or people who operate carelessly or recklessly… We cannot stress enough how important it is to wear your life jacket and to have a designated driver onboard.”

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.