IDNR urges boaters to drive sober on water

Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 2:08 PM CDT
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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Officers are reminding boat operators to always drive sober while on the water.

As summer heats up and Illinoisans hit the water to celebrate Independence Day, conservation police officers have already made 17 arrests for operating under the influence. Ten arrests have been made in June alone, according to the IDNR.

Last year, officers made 103 arrests for boaters operating under the influence. Additionally, officers in 2019 issued 725 citations and 2,623 warnings in enforcement of Illinois boating safety laws.

Officers will be out in force during the Fourth of July holiday, not only checking for impaired boat operators, but also making safety checks on watercraft throughout the state, according to Lt. Curt Lewis, boating law administrator, Illinois Conservation Police.

“When we talk about drunk driving, most people immediately associate it with getting behind the wheel of a car, but they should remember the same problems occur when boat operators drive drunk,” Lewis said. “Just like a car or truck, boats are large, heavy machinery that become extremely dangerous to operate when you’re under the influence.

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“Too often, boating accidents and fatalities in Illinois happen because boat operators are impaired while driving their watercraft,” Lewis said. “We understand people want to enjoy the water with family and friends, we just ask that they do it responsibly. The safety of their family, friends and other boaters depends on it.”