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Tougher laws for boating under the influence in Illinois

Given that the Chicago area has access to a large lake, boating may be one of the most common recreational activities in the warmer weather. However, what is supposed to be fun may have its negative consequences, particularly if a boating accident occurs.

Boating accidents that result in Chicago personal injury may have caught the attention of Illinois lawmakers. Reportedly, the Secretary of State in Illinois is pushing a bill that may toughen laws associated with drunken boating by motorboat operators. It already has passed the Illinois Senate with a vote of 54-0. The bill, called Morrison's Boating Under the Influence, will empower the Secretary of State's Office to suspend the motorboat operator's driver's license if the person has been found intoxicated.

The same goes for DUI violations on the roadways; if a person's blood alcohol content is 0.08 or higher, the person is considered to be intoxicated in violation of the law. Operating the boat under the influence of drugs also may mean a suspension of the person's driver's license. While some people may think that the proposed penalties are irrelevant because the violation takes place on the water and not on the road, the lawmaker asserted that it is one way to force boat operators not to drink and, therefore, to be safer on the water.

Additionally, a report confirmed that there has been an increase of fatalities that occur on Illinois waterways due to the combination of boating and alcohol. A total of nine individuals died in alcohol-related boating accidents in 2011.

Operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to injuries or fatalities. If that is the case, the operator may face criminal consequences because the federal government has implemented laws against boating under the influence. Aside from this, the intoxicated operator may also be civilly responsible.

In such cases, the injured party may claim compensation, especially if the other party's negligence was involved. The compensation may cover the costs of the victim's hospitalization, lost wages and emotional distress. If the incident leads to a fatality, the victim's family may be compensated through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Source: SaukValley.com, "Bill targets drunken boaters," April 27, 2013

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