May 21-27 is National Safe Boating Week! During this week, individuals are called to promote boating and lifejacket safety to boaters everywhere. In Illinois, summer is approaching, meaning that lakes throughout our state will be crowded with boats and people. Even though boating is a great activity to partake in with family and friends, it can also be very dangerous. The State of Illinois has many rules and regulations in order to regulate the safety of the activity, however, many individuals on the lake often violate these regulations, putting innocent individuals safety at risk. Listed below are the top four most common violations that occur on lakes according to the Illinois Boat Registration and Safety Act.
1. Failure to Have Personal Flotation Device: Under state regulation, you must have at least one life jacket per individual on board the boat. All flotation devices must be U.S. Coast Guard-approved. Failure to have a life jacket on board can result in being cited for a petty offense.
2. Boating Under the Influence (BUI): In Illinois, you cannot maneuver a boat with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. A first-time offense results in a Class A misdemeanor. The offense escalates to a Class 4 felony with a prison sentence of a year minimum, or 12-year maximum if the individual has a prior BUI conviction, caused an accident that results in great bodily harm, or if the violation occurs while your boating license was revoked. If an individual was killed in an accident, the offender could face three to 14 years in prison.
3. Careless or Reckless Operation: If an individual is operating a boat in a careless manner, they could face a Class B misdemeanor. If a driver is driving recklessly, it could result in a Class A misdemeanor conviction.
Careless behaviors include failing to:
- Bear the right when you approach another boat head-on
- Grant the right of way to an overtaken boat
- Yield the right of way to a sailboat or rowboat.
Reckless behaviors include:
- Weaving through heavy traffic
- Jumping wakes off of other boats
- Riding too close to another vessel
- Driving fast in obstructed visibility
- Waiting until the last second to swerve
4. Entering in No-Boat Zone/Driving Above No-Wake Speed: If an area has been marked by buoys as a zone limited to swimmers, you have no other choice but to avoid the area. If your boat is within 150 feet of a public launching ramp, you must drive 5 mph or less. Failure to follow these regulations can not only result in a petty offense but also puts other individuals in danger.
We encourage you to pay close attention to the regulations listed above when out on the water in order to keep yourself and others safe and avoid violations.
Unfortunately, even if you take the proper precautions for yourself and your family and friends, you cannot control the actions of others. If you have been hurt due to someone else’s negligent actions while boating, contact the boating accident attorneys at Spiros Law to discuss your rights and legal options.