Gov. Quinn signs law cracking down on boaters drinking and driving

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CHICAGO, IL. (KTVI) – Governor Pat Quinn Sunday signed a series bills to enhance public safety on Illinois waterways.  Quinn had stern words for boaters drinking and driving, “if you’re drunk while operating a boat, you may lose your right to operate a car”

The governor was joined by the family of Tony Borcia, a 10-year old Libertyville boy killed last July by a drunk boater.

Bill 1479 ensures that anyone operating a motorboat involved in an accident involving serious injury or death must consent to the chemical testing of their blood, breath or urine to determine blood alcohol or drug content. Operators who refuse testing, test positive for drugs or exceed the legal blood alcohol content limit, face suspension of their Illinois driver’s license. This law takes effect on January 1st.

Bill 1310 strengthens the state’s Boat Registration and Safety Act regarding a boat’s carrying capacity, redefines “authorized emergency watercraft” to have flashing blue lights and hikes penalties on boat rental operators who fail to equip their crafts with life jackets, fire extinguisher and lighting.

In 2012, there were 101 boating-related accidents on Illinois waters, resulting in 17 deaths and 77 injuries. Alcohol use was a contributing factor in 13 of the accidents and five of the fatalities.