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Drunk Boating a Growing Concern in Illinois

Over the last few years the number of alcohol-related boating deaths has increased in Illinois as the number of drinking and boating accidents fall in other states. Only the state of Wisconsin ranks ahead of Illinois in fatalities caused by intoxicated boating. The growing number of drunk boating accidents and related fatalities is drawing greater scrutiny by law enforcement at a time when their resources are down. The victims of boating accidents involving alcohol in Illinois can recover compensation by working with a personal injury attorney.

According to The Associated Press, this past summer was one of the deadliest concerning alcohol-related boat accidents in Illinois. In one accident, a passenger carrying two drinks while traveling on a boat headed to Navy Pier for the Fourth of July fireworks fell overboard and drowned. In another accident, a person who had been drinking went canoeing and drowned in the Sangamon River. Last year, in total, there were nine alcohol-related boating deaths in Illinois, the highest number since 2004. Moreover, according to the U.S. Coast Guard thirteen people were injured in 18 boating accidents related to alcohol last year. The number of drunken boating fatalities in the state has risen consistently over the past five years, according to the Chicago Tribune. In addition, the rising number in alcohol-related boating deaths in Illinois comes at a time when many other states are experiencing a decline.

The lack of a strong police presence may encourage boaters to take more risks than they have historically. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has struggled to maintain a consistent presence on Illinois’s waterways because the Department has faced budget cuts in recent years forcing the Department to reduce the number of conservation police. Over the last decade the number of conservation officers in the Department has been trimmed by one third to 125 officers. Popular destinations can also make some waterways more troublesome. The Chain O’ Lakes in McHenry and Lake Counties is one such area. In addition, the effects of alcohol are magnified by long stretches in the sun, and individuals consuming alcohol may feel under the influence much quicker than expected. Therefore, boaters in Illinois should take precautions, such as assigning a sober driver, to avoid accidents on the water.

To further avoid accidents, boaters in Illinois should also:

  • Make sure all required safety equipment is on the boat
  • Know how much weight the boat can safely carry and never overload the boat
  • Stay seated in the boat as much as possible
  • Travel slowly in shallow areas
  • Use running lights at night so others can see you

If you have been injured in a boating accident in Illinois and believe another party is responsible, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to understand your rights and seek compensation.


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