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Boating Regulations In Illinois




Warmer months are at our doorstep and Illinois residents look forward to hitting aquatic environments while catching rays, fish, and fun. This year, however, may “feel” a tad different than proceeding seasons as new boating regulations in Illinois take effect as part of Illinois Boat Registration & Safety Act, were made effective January 1, 2015.

A report in the Edwardsville Intelligencer details new regulations, sponsored by state Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), which were inspired by the senator’s personal episode in a boating accident involving the death of her 10-year-old nephew, Tony Borcia, in a 2012 crash along the Chain O’Lakes. Legislation enacted three specific boating laws aimed at mitigating accidents on Illinois bodies of water and waterways.


Three highlighted regulatory changes:

1. Boaters who tow a person on water skis, aquaplane or similar apparatus will be required to display a bright or brilliant orange flag measuring no less than 12 inches per side. The flag shall be displayed at the highest point of the area surrounding the boat’s helm as to be visible from all directions, continuously, while the person or persons being towed depart the boat in preparation for towing and until reentry into the boat when the activity is ceased.

2. Police will be allowed to seize crafts of intoxicated boaters in certain cases. Rules bring penalties for boating under the influence more akin to operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. If involved in a boating accident while operating under the influence, the offender could be charged with a felony and lose his or her driver’s license.

3. Requires all persons born after January 1, 1998, to take and pass a boating safety course validated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and hold a valid boating safety certificate before they can operate a motorboat with an engine over 10 horsepower.


In the article, Ben Kelley, chair of the Holiday Shores Boating Rules and Regulations Committee, said, “From the time they get out of the boat to the time when they get back in the boat, the flag must be displayed. Some people have told me that they’ll just keep the flag displayed all the time, but technically the law states that it must be displayed only when someone is in the water, which means you have to take it down after the activity is over. This will assist in keeping boaters from cutting behind you.”


The primary reason for this legislation is to lessen boating accident occurrences, and, when there is an accident, hold parties fully accountable.


According to the Illinois Boat Registration & Safety, all vessel accidents must render aid to any affected persons and provide his name, address, and vessel information to any person injured and to the owner of any property damaged as a result of the collision or accident. And after any boating accident, operators of motorboats must submit chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine) upon request of the investigating law enforcement officer.


The boating accident lawyers of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. help people who are injured on the water. If you have been hurt or if you have lost a loved one in an accident involving a boat or other watercraft, we may be able to help you too. Negligence or wrongdoing can happen just as easily on the water as it does on our roadways.

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