Today is unofficially the start of boating season. The Lake County Sheriff's Marine Unit has been on the water and has powered up their patrols for the Memorial Day Weekend. The Marine Unit encourages boaters to be aware of safety rules and use common sense while boating.
The Lake County Sheriff's Office has already made an arrest for operating a boat under the influence this season.
Last Saturday, May 19, on Nippersink Lake, Lake County Marine Sheriff's Deputies arrested a James T. Sharkey, 39, of Naperville, for Operating Under the Influence (OUI).
Marine Deputies observed Sharkey to be in violation of a "no wake" zone and stopped his boat. Field sobriety tests were conducted after deputies noticed signs of intoxication on Sharkey, the driver of the 2003 Baja Outlaw watercraft. Deputies indicated Sharkey's BAC to be .30, the legal limit is .08. Sharkey was operating his boat while intoxicated with 11 passengers on board.
The Lake County Sheriff's Marine Unit made 47 arrests in 2011 for OUI. There were 948 boats that were boarded by Marine Unit personnel to ensure proper equipment was present.
"Our goal is to keep people safe out on our waters", said Sgt. Louis Kent of the Marine Unit. "Boat operators choosing to use alcohol need to keep in mind the lives they are putting in jeopardy."
Safety tips include wearing a life jacket, doing a boat safety check, checking the weather before going out and staying sober.
Life jackets should be worn the entire time you are on board your watercraft, much as you would put a seat belt on when in a motor vehicle. Accidents happen much too fast to reach and put on a stowed life jacket. The law requires that a personal floatation device be on board for every person on the boat.
A boat safety check includes making sure that you have the proper equipment on board and inspecting your boat prior to putting it back on the water. All boats should be equipped with a working fire extinguisher, a horn or whistle, and flares. Be sure that your battery is also protected from the water. Inspect the hull and propulsion equipment, paying attention to through-hull fittings and hoses that may have become brittle or cracked over the winter.
Check weather reports prior to embarking on your day. Weather can change very rapidly on the water resulting in a pleasant day turning into a dangerous situation.
Stay sober while operating a boat. Alcohol impairs your judgment, vision, balance and coordination.
Lake County Sheriff's Office wishes you a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.
The information in this article came from a news release from the Lake County Sheriff's Office.