IDNR Conservation Police remind public that drunk boating is drunk driving

Chris McCloud
IDNR Conservation Police remind public that drunk boating is drunk driving
SPRINGFIELD, IL � Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Conservation Police want to remind the public to play it safe this Labor Day weekend.  Conservation Police officers (CPOs) will be stepping up enforcements across the state looking for individuals operating under the influence (OUI) in an effort to keep the public safe on Illinois waters.

�Alcohol and operating a boat never mix, but that is especially true during holiday weekends when there are traditionally more people on the water,� said IDNR Conservation Police Deputy Chief Joe Morelock. �It�s important to remember to celebrate responsibly. Wear a life jacket and always have a designated skipper onboard if you are going to be consuming alcohol. Following these two basic rules will help save lives.�

In 2012, Illinois Conservation Police and other agencies made 209 reported OUI arrests on Illinois waters.

OUI is a Class �A� Misdemeanor for a first time offense and is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine. CPOs will also be conducting standard vessel inspections to ensure that all safety rules are being followed.  Illinois law requires that personal floatation devices (PFDs) � life jackets or life vests � be available for each person onboard. 

State law also requires that anyone under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket while aboard any watercraft under 26 feet in length at all times the boat is underway, unless they are below deck in an enclosed cabin or operating on private property.  Individuals are also required to wear a PFD while operating a personal watercraft or jet ski.

CPOs will also be on the lookout for drunk drivers in and around lakes, rivers and state parks.

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