Laws related to operation of boats on Illinois waters — Part II

Summertime is a time when many Illinois residents venture out on Illinois waterways for a fun-filled day with family and friends. As a result, because many people have the same idea, the waterways may get congested. This makes it necessary for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to enforce laws that ensure the safety of the people using those waterways. Waterway laws are very much like traffic laws. A previous post on the blog discussed some of those basic rules that every boater must follow, if they are operating a boat on Illinois waters.

As discussed in our previous post, the Illinois Boat Registration and Safety Act (IBRSA) states that operating a boat carelessly or recklessly, interfering with navigation and overloading boats are offenses. Similarly, supplying power to a boat in excess of its rated capacity is also an offense. Again, passing, crossing and overtaking other boats must be executed according to the rules stated in the act. The act also emphasizes how a motorboat operator should act when there are sailboats and rowboats in the vicinity.

The IBRSA also states that there are areas on the state’s waterways that are designated as restricted areas or “no wake areas.” Signs regarding these areas are clearly displayed, and it is mandatory for all boat operators to abide by the rules. The act also clearly displays the rules and regulations that boaters are supposed to follow when they are in the waterways for recreational activities, such as water skiing and diving. Additionally, the IBRSA has established guidelines about the operation of boats at night.

Just as is the case with other motor vehicles, the IBRSA prohibits the operation of boats while under the influence of alcohol or any other substance to prevent the occurrence of boating accidents. Therefore, if a boat operator is found to have violated that rule, the person may face charges under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act or the Cannabis Control Act, which can come with significant penalties.

Source:, “Illinois Boat Registration & Safety Act Information,” accessed on June 15, 2015