Boat Safely–and Legally–This Spring and Summer

boating dui arrestAs temperatures finally begin to rise in northern Illinois, boats are coming out of storage, and soon the lakes and rivers will once again be filled with fishermen, wakeboarders, and jet-skiers. And what fun is a boat without a cooler of beer and other beverages? However, boat operators should be aware that if they consume alcohol, they may face similar charges to what a motor vehicle driver would face for DUI. Just remember the old saying, “It is all fun and games until somebody gets hurt…or arrested.”

With over 230,000 registered watercraft in Illinois, our lakes and rivers are often very crowded. Here are a few reminders to keep you safe and legal while boating this summer:

Check Your Gear & Licenses Before Heading Out on the Water

Illinois requires all boats to carry one life jacket or other personal floatation device (PFD) per person onboard. Anyone under the age of 13 must wear their life jacket at all times when the boat is underway, unless they are below deck, operating on private property, or on a boat of 26 feet or longer. Jet-skiers must also wear their PFDs at all times.

When towing skiers or tubers, boaters must display an orange flag and obey other rules set forth in Illinois law. (625 ILCS 45/5-14, effective January 1, 2015)

Make sure you have identification with you, and that your boat registration is up to date. Anyone born after January 1, 1998 (who is now 20 or younger) must carry a Boating Safety Certificate from a DNR-approved course in order to operate a motorboat with an engine over 10 horsepower on Illinois waters. (625 ILCS 45/5-18, effective January 1, 2016)

Stop for Conservation Police and Other Law Enforcement Officers

The waterways and boat launch areas of Illinois are patrolled by the Conservation Police officers of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as well as county deputy sheriffs and municipal police. Watercraft operators are required by law to stop and obey the directions of these officers when signaled by hand, voice, siren, or lights.

In Illinois, BUI Is Treated Like DUI

Illinois treats boating under the influence (which includes operating any kind of watercraft, including jet-skis), or BUI, much the same as driving a car under the influence. Boat operators are subject to the same legal limits for drugs and alcohol as car and truck drivers, and the penalties for BUI are basically the same as for DUI.

One difference is that BUI will generally result in suspension of boat operating privileges, but not land driving privileges. However, a boat operator involved in a crash that results in personal injury or death, and who fails or refuses chemical testing, can lose not just their boating privileges, but also their driver’s license. Multiple violations can even result in the confiscation of the boat. (625 ILCS 45/5-16, effective July 29, 2016; 720 ILCS 5/36-1)

Trust an Experienced Joliet BUI/DUI Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been arrested for BUI, you should contact a knowledgeable Will County DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba will look at all of the evidence in your case and recommend the best defense strategy. Contact us at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.

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