State officials are hoping a downward trend in alcohol-related crashes continues this Labor Day holiday.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says its officers have been focusing on stopping drunken boaters this weekend.
The department says officers have been heavily patrolling the state's lakes and rivers since Friday. DNR Conservation Police Officer Ray Wichus says his officers have been seeking boaters operating watercrafts while under the influence.
[audio:laborday1.mp3]Labor Day Cut 1[/audio]
In addition to targeting drunken boaters, the department plans to make sure boaters are using proper safety gear, like lifejackets. Wichus says boaters should be wearing safety jackets and encourages boaters and drivers to have a designated driver or operator if alcohol is being consumed.
[audio:laborday2.mp3]Labor Day Cut 2[/audio]
The Labor Day holiday is traditionally an unofficial end to the summer boating season for some taking to the water. Officer Wichus wants those following the rules to be kept out of harms way and enjoy the final hours on the water for the season.
[audio:laborday3.mp3]Labor Day Cut 3[/audio]
Officers will be doing routine vessel inspections as well, and authorities remind boaters all boats must have personal flotation devices for each boat occupant.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, just 9% of fatal crashes on Labor Day weekend last year involved alcohol. That compared to 40% in 2009 and 58% in 2008.