Safer waterways for Illinois' boaters

Published: Jul. 24, 2013 at 2:58 AM CDT
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The next time you get behind the wheel of a boat and take off across the lake, you better make sure you haven't been doing anything to impair your driving.

A new law signed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will hopefully keep you and your family safer when out on the water.

Senate Bill 1479 was signed into law in honor of 10-year-old Tony Borcia. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2014.

This past July Borcia and his family were boating near his hometown of Libertyville.  As his family pulled him behind their boat on a tube, the driver of a speedboat ran over top of Tony, killing him.

The driver of that boat was found to be under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Now anyone operating a boat that causes an injury or death could be in trouble.

"If they are in this situation,and they are found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while they're involved in a serious injury or fatal accident. Not only do they lose their boating privileges for that year," said IDNR Officer Kris Taylor. "They could also lose their driver's license for that year as well."

And if police believe you are under the influence then you will have to submit to a breath, blood and or urine sample to determine your blood alcohol or drug content.

"If you drink in moderation then you shouldn't have any troubles," said Paul Voelker of Nashville. "If you get out there and over do it, it's just like driving down the highway, they are all a nuisance and a danger."

Governor Quinn also signed Senate Bill 1310 which is designed to strengthen boating safety regulations. This new law now considers anyone being pulled behind a boat as a passenger in the boat. And this will hopefully keep boat operators from overloading their boats.

In 2012, there were 17 people killed and 77 people injured in boating accidents in Illinois.

"We are hoping that this will bring about a little more responsibility from boat operators," said Officer Taylor. "They have to realize now that when they're out there on the water, that they realize drinking and driving a boat is being taken serious."