The heavy rain this year makes some Rockford area rivers treacherous for boaters this 4th of July especially the Rock. We sent 13 News Reporter Rebecca Klopf to ride along with the people who patrol the waterways, the Illinois Conservation Police. They say they won't hesitate to give people a ticket for not following the rules.
Things are supposed to be pretty slow on the Rock River this 4th of July. We are not talking about the number of boaters but your speed. There is no wake allowed on the Rock River in Winnebago and Ogle Counties right now.
"There's debris that's in the water in the high water conditions that is not normally there. There river changes under these current conditions the current can be faster," says Officer Dennis Frichtl, Conservation Police.
That has conservation police keeping an extra close eye on boaters. They are allowed to pull over a boat at anytime for no reason to do a safety inspection.
"We are trying to make sure that they are safe when they are out there particularly that they are not consuming alcohol to the point that they are under the influence as far as the operators are concerned," says Officer Frichtl.
Illinois law allows people to drink if they are driving a boat as long as they're not intoxicated. But conservation police warn some of the worst accidents and death happen when you mix the two. Officers also say the holiday brings out many inexperienced boaters and it's important drivers stay alert.
"Fourth of July or something like that where you have a high concentration of boats and you mix inexperienced sometimes, coupled that with alcohol, coupled that with the nuances of the river conditions and you can have a very dangerous environment," says Officer Frichtl.
Conservation Police plan to patrol the Rock River late into the night along with the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department and say they will arrest drunk boaters and take them to jail.
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