Orange Flag Alert Captain! There Are Water Police Off the Starboard Bow!
Happy Boating Season fellow Illinois Boaters! The weather has finally turned warm enough to enjoy the waters of Illinois. As a displaced Kentuckian, I still swear we often have only July and winter as the seasons in Illinois, but alas I digress.
It’s early in the boating season, and OUI’s are UP! Also, I am fielding almost daily calls from our fellow boaters who have had an unpleasant contact with a water born police officer who stopped them for towing a skier or tuber without the now required orange flag first flying! The tickets are expensive and the cost of the now necessary Orange flag is just a fraction of the cost. This is the only time a University of Kentucky Wildcat fan will tell anybody to “GO ORANGE!”
Remember that without an Illinois Boaters Bill of Rights, water born police can and will stop any boat for any time and for any reason for a “safety check.” Keep your wallet healthy, and save an unnecessary ticket!
Yes campers, even jet skis towing a skier need a silly Orange flag! If you are towing, you need the Orange flag showing! (I must be a poet and did not know it!)
Remember, any excuse to stop a boater can and will lead to questions regarding any alcohol use while boating not to mention unpleasant tickets for any number of safety defeciencies. Nothing is more fun than holding up all of your life jackets and that all important throwable, right?
The Department of Natural Resources Officers especially loves any excuse to seek out and find their next OUI (Operating Under the Influence) case. An OUI will result in your boat being towed, lots of court costs and attorneys fees, not to mention the end of your enjoyable day on the water. Not endorsing drinking and boating whatsoever, but be wise and fly that Orange flag before you tow tow so that the Po Po may leave you ‘lone ‘lone. (pretend it rhymes and remember – It ain’t no crime to rhyme!)
Amends the: BOAT REGISTRATION AND SAFETY ACT – WATERCRAFT TOWING
P.A. 98-697, Effective January 1, 2015
Read the actual law here: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500450K5-14
625 ILCS 45/5-14
In a nutshell, this new law, which amends the Illinois Boat Registration and Safety Act requires that any watercraft that is towing a person, such a water skier or tuber must display a bright ORANGE flag measuring not less than twelve (12) inches per side. This warning flag must be displayed from the time a person to be towed (or water skier) leaves the boat and enters the water and must remain displayed until they return to the boat. The flag must fly from the highest part of the vessel as well.
Yes that is an ORANGE flag. A quick Google search found dozens of fairly cheap flags that will suffice such as these for example: http://www.amazon.com/Invincible-Marine-Orange-Water-Flag/dp/B005XWNSEA
THE SKINNY: The reality is that while IL DNR is a fine government agency (for the most part), their police officers, especially when patrolling on the Chain O’Lakes, are primary motivated by issuing fines and citations that bring in revenue to the Department. IL DNR initiates hundreds if not thousands of stop or Illinois boaters throughout the season. Ostensibly for safety, the reality is they are looking to issue fines and citations.
One cannot forget that anti-boating State Senator Julie Morrison sponsored the original monstrosities that thankfully never became Illinois laws. That being said, it is a safe bet that IL DNR and other law enforcement agencies on the water this summer cannot wait to issue fines to anybody not displaying the ORANGE safety flag and daring to tow a water skier or a tuber.
A new boating season is underway, and with it: new Illinois boating laws. Being forewarned is being forearmed. Educate yourself before you pull away from the dock so that your days on the water are as enjoyable and hassle free as possible.
There is an ongoing war on Illinois boating and the Illinois Boaters Association is your best voice in this battle to ensure that you are heard. If you are a member of the Illinois Boaters Association, thank you. If you are not, why not? We need you voice and your support. If you own a business in Illinois and support safe and common sense Illinois boating laws, why not become a corporate partner?
Illinois Boaters Association membership information can be found here: http://ilboat.org/
Have a wonderful and safe 2015 boating season!
About the author: Attorney David A. Zipp is the managing partner of David A. Zipp, P.C. a general practice law firm located in Fox Lake, Illinois. Attorney Zipp and his team routinely serve criminal and civil clients in Lake and McHenry counties. Attorney Zipp is a former United States Marine, an elected member of the Gavin District 37 Board of Education in Ingleside, Illinois, a Master Mason, Knight of Columbus and is honored to serve as the Executive Director of the Illinois Boater’s Association. Attorney Zipp lives on the shores of Long Lake, in Ingleside Illinois with his wife, an academic doctor and a ever-changing variety of cats, dogs, and chickens.