Illinois Governor Signs Bill Cracking Down on Drinking and Boating

Boating accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm announce that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently signed a bill securing the requirements for those involved in boating accidents resulting in serious injury and death.

The new law requires anyone involved in such an accident to consent to chemical testing of blood, breath or urine in order to determine blood alcohol or drug content. Anyone who refuses testing, or who tests above the permissible levels of alcohol and drug content, will face license suspension or revocation, along with criminal charges if such action is taken. Changes will take effect across Illinois on January 1, 2014.

The law change is the result of a tragic accident that occurred in the summer of 2012 on the Chain O’ Lakes in northern Lake County. Ten-year-old Anthony Borcia was tubing on the lakes with his family when he was hit by a speedboat operated by a 51-year-old Bartlett man. Anthony died, and after pleading guilty to aggravated driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, the boat operator was sentenced to ten years in prison.

Governor Quinn told the Sun-Times that the law was enacted in the boy’s memory. Anthony’s mother stated that her family has been trying to make penalties for drinking and boating harsher so people will think twice before engaging in such behavior. At the same time he signed Anthony’s bill, Governor Quinn signed legislation aimed at overcrowded boats.

The second new bill clarifies that someone being towed by a watercraft, such as a tuber or waterskiier, is in fact considered part of the total number of passengers on the boat. Former laws did not make such a distinction, which boaters were using as a loophole. Lawmakers hope the new bill will curb overcrowding and it takes effect immediately.

In 2012, there were more than 100 boating-related accidents in Illinois, which resulted in 77 injuries and nearly 20 deaths. Alcohol was a significant contributing factor in 13 of these accidents, and in five of the fatalities.

Unfortunately, DUIs are still a significant problem on Illinois roadways as well. One man recently pleaded guilty to felony DUI charges after a fatal crash on I-290 near Addison. The accident occurred in February 2012, and involved two motorists and an Illinois State Police Trooper.

On that fateful night a 42-year-old man found himself stranded on the side of 290 after his SUV was disabled. A trooper told him to wait in his squad car until a tow truck came, however, a few minutes later, a drunk motorist rear-ended the police cruiser. The crash was so forceful it sent to squad car spinning, sending the trooper into the back seat and pinning the other stranded motorist inside.

The man had to be extracted from the squad car and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, while the police trooper suffered serious head injuries and was hospitalized for several weeks. Blood tests taken following the crash showed the drunken driver had a BAC of .20, which is more than twice the legal limit. He now faces 12 years in prison, though he won’t be sentenced until October 2013, and remains free on bail until then.

Boating and auto accident attorneys are glad Governor Quinn took affirmative action in efforts to prevent further alcohol-related deaths on our waterways. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a crashed caused by the negligence of another, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation for any medical bills, time away from work, or wrongful death.

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