Public hearing details proposed boating laws, uses Chain as example

Ralph LoosBoating and fishing on the popular Chain O' Lakes could change drastically if three pieces of proposed legislation make their way through the state's General Assembly. A public hearing held last night (Aug. 29) in Libertyville revealed local opposition to Senate Bills 1805, 1478 and 1477, which are designed to improve and enhance safety on the lakes.

The hearing, organized by the Senate Committee on Watercraft Safety, featured more than 200 people registered to testify. Of that number, more than 160 were registered as being in opposition to the legislation.

DNR pointed out that 51 people have been arrested for operating under the influence on the Chain O'Lakes so far in 2013. And, to bring perspective to the situation on the Chain, it was noted that there were 209 Operating Under the Influence (OUI) arrests statewide in 2012. About 100 of those  arrests were made on the Chain.

A summary of the legislation:

Senate Bill 1478 would prohibit anyone born on or after January 1, 1990 from operating a watercraft without a valid Boating Safety Certificate issued by DNR.
Senate Bill 1477 would suspend the drivers license for three months of any person who is found to have operated a watercraft under the influence, upon a second conviction.
Senate Bill 1805 would require the display of an orange flag while towing a person, including a person on an inner tube or water skis. The flag would need to be displayed when the person enters the water and while he or she is being towed, until he or she is back in the watercraft. This would pertain only to motorboats.

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