SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) will be out in full force this weekend – on the look-out for boaters operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The increased enforcement is part of a national coordinated effort of stepped-up enforcement called Operation Dry Water.
“We want people to have fun, but at the same time to be safe out on the water,” said IDNR Office of Law Enforcement Chief Rafael Gutierrez. “Alcohol use is one of the leading factors in fatal recreational boating accidents in the state of Illinois and across the country. We recommend that all boats have a designated skipper on board.”
Impaired boaters caught this weekend can expect penalties. In Illinois, operating under the influence (OUI) is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense. It is punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and/or up to $2,500 in fines.
“Our CPOs work hard throughout the year to make sure boaters are safe on Illinois public waters,” added Chief Gutierrez. “We have zero tolerance for anyone found operating a boat under the influence at any time; however, boaters will see a stepped up effort as we approach the 4th of July holiday.”
Operation Dry Water was launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the United States Coast Guard and the IDNR to draw public attention to the hazards of OUI. Operation Dry Water is a national weekend of OUI detection and enforcement aimed at reducing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities. For more information, visit www.operationdrywater.org.