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Drunk boating laws may be getting tougher in Georgia

Athens residents may understand that getting behind the wheel of a vehicle is dangerous and illegal after drinking too much alcohol. But not all folks associate the same dangers of drinking and driving with drinking and operating a boat. Folks may not think that operating a boat while drinking alcohol is as dangerous as drinking and driving because Georgia laws have allowed boaters to consume more alcohol than drivers of vehicles.

Under state laws, drivers will be charged with DUI if they exceed the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08. Boaters on the other hand are allowed to consume more alcohol before breaking the law. In Georgia, boaters may face charges for boating while under the influence of alcohol when they exceed the legal blood alcohol limit of .10. However, those who plan on operating a boat in Georgia will want to know that these laws may be changing. It was reported last week that the state's Senate has voted to lower the legal blood alcohol limit for boaters.

The state Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 136, which includes several changes to increase boating safety in Georgia. One major change is lowering the legal blood alcohol limit from .10 to 0.08 for boaters. Another change includes requiring young boaters to complete education courses before they are allowed to legally operate a personal watercraft in Georgia. The proposed bill will now advance to the House of Representatives.

In addition to lowering the legal limit for boaters, the bill also increases penalties for boaters who are accused of drunk boating. Folks who are accused of BUI may face misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the circumstances of a BUI arrest. Under the proposed bill, folks who are convicted of boating while under the influence of alcohol may be required to serve time in jail, they may need to pay hefty fines and they may even lose their boating privileges. Some folks may also need to participate in boating education classes or DUI programs.

Source: Access North Georgia, "Georgia Senate passes boating education/BUI law," March 1, 2013