Illinois is home to so many outdoor recreational destinations. For some people enjoying time outdoors camping, hiking, or kayaking also includes adult beverages but can you get in trouble if you drink and kayak in the Land of Lincoln?

Operating Intoxicated

Most anyone over the age of 16 knows the law when it comes to drinking and driving. Regardless of the state or whether you call it a DUI, DWI, or OWI, there are steep fines, penalties, and even jail time that coincide with being arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

What Is the Legal BAC in Illinois?

In Illinois, the legal limit for anyone age 21 and over is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%. However, for those who possess a commercial driver's license, the limit is 0.04%, and for bus drivers and those under the age of 21, the BAC limit is 0.00%. A first-time offender can face fines, jail time, the loss of driving privileges, and more repercussions, according to the Illinois Secretary of State's Office.

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Boating While Intoxicated Is Illegal in Illinois

It is illegal to boat and drink too and you can be arrested for this as well. In Illinois, boating while intoxicated with a BAC of 0.08% or higher is illegal. It turns out, your boat or watercraft doesn't have to have a motor either.

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Can You Operate a Kayak or Canoe in Illinois If You've Been Drinking?

But what about drinking and canoeing or kayaking? Those are also considered watercraft and, even though they are not motorized, it is illegal to drink while using one of these vessels. According to, it is illegal in all 50 states, including Illinois to operate a vessel if you have consumed alcohol or other intoxicants.

What Kind Of Penalties?

The penalty for operating a kayak, canoe, or other watercraft while intoxicated varies by state. According to Chicago Defense Law firm, O'Meara Law, those convicted of operating a watercraft while intoxicated are at risk of jail time up to a year and large fines. Additionally, Illinois law says that operating a boat on Illinois waters gives implied consent to law enforcement authorities.

Any person operating a boat on Illinois waters is deemed to have given consent to a chemical test or tests of their blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substance for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of their blood and the presence of an abused substance or controlled dangerous substance. Refusal to submit to testing will result in the loss of boat operating privileges for a period of 2 years. - BoatSmartExam

Always Play It Safe

In addition to getting caught and prosecuted, there is the risk of injury to yourself and others. The risk far outweighs any reward you might find in cracking open a cold one while you float in a kayak or canoe so why risk it?

Beautiful Nature Photos from Shawnee National Forest Will Make You Want to Visit Southern Illinois

Take a virtual hike through the area between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers known as the Shawnee National Forest located in Southern Illinois with these stunning photos featuring Garden of the Gods, Tunnel Hill, Giant City Park, Cave in Rock, and more.

Gallery Credit: Kat Mykals



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