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Police Urge Boaters To Use Lights On Lakes This Weekend

Updated: Tuesday, July 8 2014, 04:25 PM CDT
ILLINOIS -- Hundreds of boaters are expected on the dozens of lakes across Central Illinois this weekend. While Independence Day is a time to celebrate American's freedom, local police hope if you're on the water you take some extra precautions.

The first boats that hit the water Thursday afternoon were getting a head start on the 4th of July weekend.

"On a holiday weekend, you get a lot of the novice or inexperienced operators that come out," said Sgt. Chris Stone from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Conservation officers say that is a dangerous mix, especially as more boaters head out in the dark to enjoy fireworks displays.

"Make sure that your lights are operational. I mean at night time that is the only way someone can see if you're there is if your navigational lights are on," said Sgt. Stone.

Dave Boswell was one of many boaters making it an early 4th of July weekend. He fishes in his boat until the early hours of the morning, but he makes sure to take extra precautions.

"You have your lights on of course and a lot of time I go away from the traffic, but you always got your life jacket and lights on," said Boswell.

But Boswell says a peaceful ride on the water can quickly turn dangerous.

"Of course you gotta always watch for the irresponsible people that get to much drinking," said Boswell.

That is the problem authorities hope to avoid this weekend.

"We highly recommend that if you are going to be drinking and boating this weekend you have a designated driver on board," said Sgt. Stone.

Conservation officers will be patrolling Lake Springfield and Lake Taylorville with a mobile breathalyzer unit.

The legal limit remains .08 even if you're on the water. Anyone caught could get an early end to their holiday weekend.

"We will bring them in to a facility and conduct a test there," said Sgt. Stone.

Authorities say boaters can get arrested if caught intoxicated while operating a boat.

Conservation Officers will also be making safety checks on boats to make sure they are equipped with fire extinguishers, a working horn and life jackets.Police Urge Boaters To Use Lights On Lakes This Weekend


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