ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — With Memorial Day just around the corner, the unofficial start of summer and boating season is upon us. Warmer days and a long weekend have many boaters itching to drop anchor and enjoy a cold beverage on the water with friends and family.

But just how many can you drink? Can you drink and operate a boat at all? According to Illinois law, it is legal to consume alcohol and operate a boat as long as the operator’s blood alcohol content does not exceed 0.08%. However, there is no law restricting a passenger’s alcohol consumption or public intoxication in Illinois.

Illinois law enforcement issued 131 citations for operating under the influence (OUI) in 2021, seventh-highest of all violations. In addition to watching your alcohol consumption, you might want to ensure your vessel has the proper number of personal flotation devices (PFDs). PFD violations accounted for the most frequent citations issued by Illinois law enforcement, according to the most recent Boating Accident Report.

Law enforcement reported 3431 boating violations in 2021 alone; an average of over 22 a day from May-September. Besides OUI and PFD violations, Illinois Department of Natural Resources reported the most common violations as followed:

  • 446 violations — Battery Covers. “Every motorboat equipped with storage batteries shall be provided with suitable supports and secured against shifting with the motion of the boat. Such storage batteries shall be equipped with non-conductive shielding means to prevent accidental shorting of battery terminals.”
  • 386 violations — Unlawful Operation of Unnumbered Watercraft. “Every watercraft other than non-powered watercraft on waters within the jurisdiction of this State shall be numbered.”
  • 300 violations — Fire Extinguisher. “It is unlawful to operate a motorboat equipped with an internal combustion engine anywhere in this State without at least one U. S. Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher, so placed as to be readily accessible and in such condition as to be ready for immediate and effective use.”
  • 271 violations — Operation of Motorboat Without Horn or Whistle. “It is unlawful to operate a motorboat without a mouth, hand or power operated whistle, horn or other appliance, capable of producing a blast of 2 seconds or more duration and audible for at least one-half mile.”
  • 179 violations — Operation in no wake area. “A wake is defined as a movement of the water created by a boat underway great enough to disturb a boat at rest, but under no circumstances shall a boat underway exceed 5 miles per hour while in a posted “No Wake” area.”