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Local Authorities Crack Down on Drunk Boating

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in DUI

boating, Kane County DUI attorneyFor nearly four decades, broadcast airwaves, billboards, and other attention-grabbing resources have been used to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving. Of course, such efforts continue each year as a new class of young drivers takes to the roads in Illinois for the first time—teens who may not have ever really considered how a few drinks could affect their ability to handle a car.

Meanwhile, however, far less attention has been paid to the similar dangers of drunk boating or boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In fact, it is not uncommon for people to consider a boating trip as a type of tailgate party writ large—complete with copious amounts of alcohol and a corresponding lack of inhibitions. Thus, it often comes as a surprise when the operator of a boat is arrested and charged with boating under the influence.

Authorities Expect Uptick in Waterway Use

About a decade ago, recreational boating on the Chain O’ Lakes and Fox River waterways began to decline as the national recession took manifested itself in the region. Over the last several years, however, the economy has shown signs of improvement and boat traffic has started picking up again. Officials from the four police agencies that patrol the lakes and the Fox River—Lake County Marine Unit, McHenry County Marine Unit, Illinois Department of National Resources, and United State Coast Guard—say that as recreational boating increases so does the number of drunk boaters.

"Last year, we had 24 operating under the influence (OUI) arrests," said Sgt. Phil Zinkowich of the Lake County Sheriff’s Marine Unit. "That was up from 20 the previous year." According to Zinkowich, the highest number of OUI arrests in a given year was in 2012, the first year the Coast Guard started helping with enforcement.

Penalties for Boating Under the Influence

In most cases, a charge of drunk boating is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense, which could result in up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines for a conviction. The citation also includes the impoundment of the alleged violator’s boat for at least six hours. Charges may be elevated to felony level for a repeat offense or if an accident causes serious injury or death.

The statutory limit for blood-alcohol content (BAC) for operating a boat is the same as that for driving a car or truck on land. An adult over the age of 21 can be charged with OUI if his or her BAC is 0.08 or higher while an operator under the age of 21 may have no trace of alcohol in his or her system.

Get the Help You Need

If you or a loved one is facing charges related to boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, contact an experienced Kane County criminal defense attorney. We will help you explore your available options and work with you in finding a resolution that protects your rights and your future. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.


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