Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Conservation Police want to remind the public to play it safe this Labor Day weekend. Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) will be stepping up enforcements across the state looking for individuals operating under the influence (OUI), in an effort to keep the public safe on Illinois waters.
“Many consider Labor Day to be the unofficial end to the summer boating season and with good weather thousands will take to Illinois rivers and lakes to celebrate this weekend,” said IDNR Conservation Police Chief, Rafael Gutierrez. “It’s important to remember to celebrate responsibly. Wear a life jacket and always have a designated skipper on board if you are going to be consuming alcohol. Following these two basic rules will save the public money by avoiding fines and can help save lives.”
OUI is a Class ‘A’ Misdemeanor for a first time offense and is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine. CPOs will also be doing vessel inspections to ensure that all safety rules are being followed. Illinois law requires that personal floatation devices (PFDs) – life jackets or life vests – be available for each person onboard. State law also requires that anyone under the age of 13 to wear a life jacket while aboard any watercraft under 26 feet in length at all times the boat is underway, unless they are below deck in an enclosed cabin or operating on private property. Individuals are also required to wear a PFD while operating a personal watercraft or jet ski.
CPOs will also be on the lookout for drunk drivers in and around our state parks and natural areas.
“There is zero tolerance for anyone found operating a vessel or a motor vehicle under the influence,” said Director Gutierrez. “And remember, drunk boating is drunk driving and those caught under the influence will be prosecuted.”