It’s hardly the weather to be thinking about a weekend on the water, but a group of Illinois senators on a special Watercraft Safety Committee is not letting that stop them. They’re building a trio of bills addressing safety on the water, including testing and licensing boaters, setting up penalties for drunken boating, and requiring boats to fly a flag when they are towing a skier or tuber.
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A prosecutor whose home is on the Kankakee River, Kankakee County’s Jamie Boyd, suggesting “taking away their toys” would be an effective hammer: “I would suggest on the second offense” for boating under the influence, “that the prosecutor’s office, along with law enforcement, be given the opportunity to seize and forfeit the boat, the trailer, and all of the contents.”
A representative of the Chicago Yachting Association, Fred Poppe, asked about other states’ requirements of six hours’ training to get a boating license, said that’s better than nothing, but “don’t ask me if I think it’s adequate.”
A conservation officer raised the question of whether a ski flag would be more effective if it were deployed only when the skier is in the water – say, at the beginning and end of his or her run. With the flag up throughout, says Jamie Maul, “other boaters may get conditioned or become indifferent to the flag, because they’re used to seeing it all the time.”
The hearing was for discussion purposes only; no vote was taken.