SPRINGFIELD, IL (KFVS) - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Police Officers will be out in full force this 4th of July weekend. They'll be on the look-out for boaters operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
"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 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.
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 on your boat for every person aboard.