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Boozy Boating is Dangerous, Avoid BUI This Summer

Press Release - Friday, July 28, 2023

The ILCC Warns Boaters About the Dangers of Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) wants Illinois boaters to be aware that Boating under the Influence of Alcohol (BUI) can be hazardous for passengers and swimmers, as well as other vessels on the water.

With Illinois experiencing record high temperatures, boating on Illinois lakes and waterways has become a popular way for many to keep cool. From Rend Lake to the Chain O'Lakes and Lake Michigan, some Illinois residents choose boating as a way to beat the summer heat. However, statistics show that when alcohol is involved, boating can be dangerous and even deadly.

According to the 2022 Illinois Recreational Boating Report, published by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, BUI was one of the top citations issued to Illinois boaters last year, coming in second only after lifejacket violations. On a national level, the U.S. Coast Guard reports BUI as being the leading contributor to fatal boating accidents in the U.S.

"We encourage Illinoisans to enjoy all that our great state has to offer," said Illinois Liquor Control Commission Executive Director Lisa Gardner. "However, we want everyone to be aware that consuming alcohol while operating any vehicle, including boats, can have unintended consequences and puts everyone at risk."

Illinois law prohibits the operation of any watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A first-offense BUI is a class A misdemeanor, which can include penalties up to $2,500 as well as up to a year in jail. Further, a BUI accident that causes the death of another person is a class 2 felony, carries an up to 14-year prison sentence, and up to $25,000 in fines. It is important to note that "watercrafts" include motorized and non-motorized vessels, such as motorboats, jet skis, canoes, kayaks, and row boats.

The ILCC wants everyone in the State to have fun enjoying summer recreational water activities, but refrain from operating any watercraft under the influence of alcohol.

About the Illinois Liquor Control Commission

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission's mission is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Illinois through careful control and regulation of the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcoholic liquors and through the development of strategies to reduce youth access to alcohol products and the provision of training and education on responsible beverage service.

To learn more about the ILCC and its divisions, visit To submit a tip or complaint to the ILCC's Enforcement Division, click here.

Follow the Illinois Liquor Control Commission on social media: ILCC Social Media Links

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