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Bill targets drunk boaters

Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 9:41 a.m. CST

(MCT) — Should drunken motorboat operators continue to get away with a slap on the wrist if they get caught? Or, should sharper teeth be added to the law to curb their enthusiasm for tipsy boating?

State Sen. Julie Morrison, a Deerfield Democrat, favors the latter approach. A bill sponsored by Morrison, which passed the Illinois Senate Thursday, 54-0, certainly would give pause to motorboat operators statewide, if it becomes law.

Morrison’s Boating Under the Influence bill would authorize the Secretary of State’s Office to suspend a person’s driver’s license if that individual is found to be operating a motorboat while intoxicated. A blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher would indicate intoxication, the same level as is applied to vehicular drivers.

Piloting a boat while under the influence of drugs or other intoxicating compounds would also put operators in jeopardy of having their motor vehicle driver’s licenses suspended.

We have expressed our concern about drunken boating in the past. With the Rock River running through our region, boating safety is a constant concern, particularly now as warmer weather approaches.

In 2011, nine people were killed in alcohol-related boating accidents on Illinois waterways. The trend was partly blamed on reduced enforcement because the state’s budget crunch means fewer conservation police officers are on the job.

Some people may believe Morrison’s bill to toughen penalties for drunken motorboat piloting is a stretch. We don’t buy that argument.


This editorial appeared in the Daily Gazette, Sterling, Ill.


©2013 the Daily Gazette (Sterling, Ill.)

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