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 (OUI) of drugs or alcohol. Boaters can expect to see stepped up patrols and increased enforcement as CPOs protect Illinois waterways this coming holiday weekend.
“We want people to enjoy their time on the water, but being safe and responsible should always be a boater’s top priority,” said IDNR Office of Law Enforcement Chief Rafael Gutierrez. “Alcohol use is one of the leading causes of fatal boating accidents in Illinois and across the country. 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.”
DNR Conservation Police suggests that anyone planning to consume alcohol while out on the water have a designated skipper onboard. Impaired boaters caught this weekend can expect harsh 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 throughout the year to make sure boaters are safe on Illinois public waters,” added DNR Boating Law Administrator Captain Joe Morelock. “This past weekend we took part in a national coordinated effort called Operation Dry Water in which we made 9 OUI arrests, handed out 64 citations, 364 warnings, and inspected over 600 vessels.”
Boaters can also play it safe by making sure that everyone aboard wears a life jacket. State law requires that there be a personal floatation device (PFD) on your boat for every person aboard. Each year there are several drowning deaths that could possibly be prevented if a PFD was worn. For more information on DNR annual boating accident statistics please visit the website at http://www.dnr.state.il.us/LAW3/Boat_reports.html