Fourth of July weekend is right around the corner, and if past history is any indication of what’s going to happen this year, the Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Officers will be on Illinois waterways checking for people who are operating under the influence. It’s not just during the holiday weekend, though; Illinois has a reputation for being extremely strict when it comes to boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

For most people charged with drinking and operating a watercraft, the best bet is to get in touch with a Chicago OUI lawyer who understands the laws and how they apply in different situations.

What is Operating Under the Influence in Illinois?

When you’re caught behind the wheel of a boat while intoxicated, you can be charged with—and convicted of—operating under the influence, or OUI.

An OUI charge is a lot like a drunk driving charge in Chicago and the surrounding communities. It’s governed under 625 ILCS 45/5-16, which pertains to “operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds, or combination thereof.”

(It’s a pretty broad law, applying to many substances that could impair your ability to safely operate a boat or other watercraft.)

Penalties for an OUI Conviction

If you’re convicted of operating under the influence and it’s your first offense, you could be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor—but there are other factors that can bump the charge to a Class 4 felony or a Class 2 felony which carries even more serious penalties.

OUI as a Class 4 Felony

You can be charged with and found guilty of an OUI as a Class 4 felony if:

  • You have a previous conviction of this type
  • The incident resulted in personal injury where someone other than you suffered great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement because of the incident
  • You committed the offense when your privileges to operate a watercraft were revoked or suspended because you violated this part of the law

OUI as a Class 2 Felony

If the offense resulted in someone’s death, this offense becomes a Class 2 felony.

Do You Need to Talk to a Chicago OUI Lawyer?

If you’ve been accused of operating a watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we may be able to help you.

Call us at 847-920-4540 for a free OUI case review. Tell us what happened so we can begin developing a defense strategy that gets you the best possible outcome right away.

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