(CBS) — The state of Illinois hopes to crackdown on the unsafe operation of boats, thanks to legislation signed into law Saturday.
One bill will allow seizure of boats from intoxicated boaters in certain circumstances, bringing boating laws in line with those for operating a motor vehicle while drunk or otherwise impaired.
A second measure will require those born since 1998 to take and pass a boating safety course, the boating equivalent of driver’s education. A certificate will be required in order to pilot motorboats that have engines generating more than 10 horsepower. Those using an electric motor, operating a motorboat on private property or someone with an out-of-state boating license equivalent would be exempted.
The third measure will require a boat to display an orange flag when it is towing a water tuber or skiier.
All three measures take effect Jan. 1.
“We’re not trying to stop boating. We’re trying to say that you can have fun boating and be responsible and everyone can enjoy it. You shouldn’t be out there in fear of your life when you’re trying to have fun on our public lakes,” said Jim Borcia, of Libertyville, who lobbied hard for the bills.
Borcia watched a boater, drunk and high on cocaine, run over and kill his 10-year-old son Tony two years ago this month.
Tony was the nephew of State Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), who authored the bills following a series of hearings on boat safety issues a year ago.
“Part of your pain has been turned into purpose,” Morrison said at the bill-signing ceremony. “These bills will save lives, and your work in tony’s name will help that.
Borcia and his wife, Margaret, founded The Y-Not Project, which has attempted to raise awareness of boating safety issues and has done fundraisers to provide additional boats for the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources Conservation Police.
A Y-Not sponsored whiffleball tournament raised $70,000 last year. Another tournament is scheduled for Aug. 10.