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updated: 4/9/2014 6:20 PM

Democrat's boat safety plans advance

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  • Julie Morrison

      Julie Morrison

 
By Zachary White
zwhite@dailyherald.com

After more than a year of pushing for new boating safety rules, state Sen. Julie Morrison, a Deerfield Democrat, got the last piece of a package of changes approved by the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

As a whole, Morrison's set of plans would require boaters to display a flag while towing a tuber or skier, allow seizure of boats under some circumstances where the boater had been drunk, and require some boat operators to have a safety certificate.

The Senate Wednesday approved requiring safety certificates of boaters born in 1991 or later driving a motorboat with more than 10 horsepower.

"The next generation will all have certificates, and it's important for Illinois," Morrison said.

She said the plan was set up for younger boaters because it would make it easier for the Department of Natural Resources to administer certificates.

Also, children between the ages of 10 and 18 would be able to operate those motorboats if they were in the presence of an adult who has a certificate. At the age of 12, children can get a certificate to operate one without onboard adult supervision.

The plan goes to the Illinois House, as did two others.

Earlier this week, the Senate voted to require that boaters display an orange flag when they're towing a water tuber or skier. The flag would have to be at the highest point of the boat's helm.

Also, senators sent the House a plan that would allow the seizure of watercraft in some cases.

That is if a person is driving a boat while intoxicated and has either lost his or her license, driven under the influence three times, or caused someone harm in a prior crash while under the influence.

These proposals come following the 2012 death of 10-year-old Tony Borcia of Libertyville, who was hit and killed by an impaired boater while tubing with his family on the Chain O' Lakes.

Morrison, Borcia's aunt, also sponsored a law that went into effect in January which allows officials to take a driver's license away from a boater involved in a crash that creates injuries when the boater is under the influence or refuses to submit to an alcohol test.

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