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Illinois Boating Laws

Posted on February 27, 2023

You don’t have to travel to another state to enjoy a great time on the water. You can own and operate a boat in the state of Illinois. But like all boat owners, you must respect the state’s boating laws and regulations. Even if you don’t own a boat, you don’t want to get hurt after being in a serious boating accident. Find out what boating laws are important to follow to prevent yourself from causing or being involved in a boating accident from Taxman, Pollock, Murray, & Bekkerman, LLC.

License and Registration

Just like a driver’s license for a car, you must have a valid boating safety certificate before operating a boat. Drivers aged 18 and over can qualify for a boating safety certificate. Minors aged 10 to 17 can operate a boat only under the supervision of an adult with an eligible boating safety certificate.

After passing your boater education, you will be given a boater education card. You will be required to carry this card at all times, especially if an officer inspects your boat. You can suffer a serious penalty if you don’t have your boater education card on you.

Safety Equipment Need on a Boat

In addition to your boater education card, you want to ensure that you have the necessary equipment on your boat at all times. This includes the following items:

  • Fire extinguishers
  • Flotation devices
  • Boat battery
  • Mufflers
  • Sound-producing devices (whistles, etc.)
  • Visual distress devices (night signals, etc.)
  • Navigation lights
  • Ventilation systems

One of the main pieces of safety equipment often overlooked is flotation devices. All boating passengers must have U.S. Coast Guard-approved flotation devices, especially children.

If these devices are missing from the boat, this can result in a serious boating violation.

Navigating on The Water

Boat owners are required to operate boats safely on the water. If they recklessly operate boats, it can cause a catastrophic boating accident. Some examples of reckless actions include:

  • Weaving a boat around congested traffic
  • Waiting until the last moment to swerve the boat and avoid an accident
  • Operating a boat in a manner that creates dangerous wave conditions
  • Overloading a boat
  • Failing to maintain a safe speed

Even operating a boat in a waterway marked as a restricted area is considered illegal.

Many waterways have what is known as a “no wake speed.” This speed does not exceed 5 miles per hour and prevents dangerous conditions like a wake from happening.

Navigation Rules

Boat owners are also required to follow specific navigation rules. These rules prevent boat owners from crashing into other objects or people. There are specific maneuvers that boat owners must take when coming in contact with other vessels. The vessel that must take early action is known as the give-way vessel. The vessel that must remain steady in its course and speed is the stand-on vessel.

Depending on the direction in which the other boats are traveling, there must be different actions taken by both vessels. But if the boat owner isn’t aware of this knowledge or is under the influence, they won’t know what to do and cause a serious accident.

What Are My Legal Options in a Boating Accident?

If you are a boat owner, law enforcement has the right to stop your vessel and check that you comply with Illinois boating laws. If you are a boating accident victim, fighting for your recovery may be difficult. The attorneys at Taxman, Pollock, Murray, & Bekkerman, LLC have experience handling boating accidents. Contact us online to discuss how we can help your case.