Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill this last Sunday that will crack down on those involved in boating while intoxicated. Under the new law which takes affect on January 1st, 2014, anyone operating a motorboat who becomes involved in an accident where serious injury or death occurs, will be forced to take a chemical blood test, breathalyzer or unine sample in order to determine blood-alcohol and/or drug content. To those who refuse testing, test positive for drugs or exceed the legal blood-alcohol limit, will face the suspension of their Illinois driver’s license.
This bill has been signed about a year after a 10-year-old boy, Tony Borcia was killed while tubing on the Chain O’ Lakes in Lake County Illinois with his family. A speedboat being operated by David Hatyina, 51, of Bartlett hit the boy. Bartlett was sentenced in June to 10 years in prison for the crime. He pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol in the incident.

“We enact this law in Tony’s memory,” Quinn said in a statement released on Sunday.

According to numbers released by the Illinois Governors office, in 2012, there were 101 boating-related accidents in Illinois, resulting in 17 deaths and 77 injuries. Alcohol use was a contributing factor in 13 of the accidents and five of the fatalities.

Across the country in Washington laws are getting tougher as well. Starting July 28, anyone caught boating under the influence may find the crime punishable by up to a year in jail and a receive $5,000 fine. The law will also allow for implied consent, so that an officer can require a boat operator to take a breath or blood test if the officer believes that person to be under the influence. If a test is refused, a $1,000 civil infraction may be issued. Law enforcement officers will also gain the ability to hold negligent or reckless boaters accountable for actions. Officers will now have the authority to issue citations for vessel accidents they did not witness. According to Washington state parks officials, alcohol is a factor in 30 percent of boating fatalities.

These two states are the latest to enact tougher new laws and other states such as New York may be soon proposing new Safety Laws. In a related boating legal thread, Ohio recently signed a Boater Protection Act into law which will limit state authorities from performing what was described as “overbearing” inspections on Ohio Boaters.