New law toughens penalties for drinking while driving a boat

Jul 22, 2013

Credit Iowa Department of Natural Resources
A fatal boating accident is behind a new state law that could deepen penalties for intoxicated drivers. IPR'S Amanda Vinicky reports.

A year ago, ten-year-old Tony Borcia went boating with his dad and siblings on the Chain of Lakes – a string of lakes connected by the Fox River, in northeastern Illinois.  

Tony’s mom, Margaret Borcia, says she’d taken her kids “tubing” many times – it’s a thrill to sit in an intertube pulled by a boat, bouncing over the waves. But this time, Tony fell off.  Before his family could pick him up, a speed boat struck and killed him.

“The first few days after Tony’s death were a blur … during that time I learned the driver of the boat was drunk.  And then a few days later I learned that he was also high on cocaine.”

Margaret Borcia says she believes the accident may have been avoided if there were tougher penalties for drinking while driving a boat.

She stood by as the governor signed a new state law. A boat operator who’s intoxicated or refuses to submit to blood alcohol testing could lose his license to drive a car. It only applies if there’s a serious accident or death.

The law was sponsored by Tony Boscia’s aunt, State Senator Julie Morrison, a Democrat from Deerfield who says she’ll further boating safety issues.