In the summer of 2012, two tragic fatal boating accidents on Lake Lanier left Georgia stunned. They occurred less than three weeks apart and resulted in the death of three young boys. In the first incident, two brothers were killed by a drunk driver, and five more individuals were hurt. The tragedies have now spawned a new Georgia law to bring the permissible blood alcohol level while driving a boat in line with the state’s DUI laws for those operating a motor vehicle on our roadways.
Prior to the passage of the new law, Georgia was one of just eight states across the country that permitted a higher blood alcohol level for those operating a watercraft. That limit of .10 percent has now been reduced to .08 percent. Prohibition against toxic vapors, aerosols and glue were also added to the law, and the penalties for a BUI conviction were elevated. The first two convictions are classified as misdemeanors, while a third would constitute an aggravated misdemeanor level. A fourth conviction would be classified as a felony, and a BUI violator could have his or her license suspended for as many as three years.
Another section of the same law requires life jackets to be worn by boat riders up to the age of 13, which replaces the former limit of 11. Moreover, those 12-15 may only operate a Class A water craft when wearing a life jacket and accompanied by someone that is at least 18 years of age. Boats classified as Class 1, 2 or 3 may not be operated by anyone under the age of 16.
These new laws make it clear that water safety is a primary concern in Georgia. A conviction for boating under the influence can now have many of the same consequences that a DUI conviction could engender. Nevertheless, those accused of violating these laws have the same protections that apply to anyone accused of a crime in our state. In view of the potentially severe consequences a conviction could bring, the best first step is to gain an understanding of the applicable laws and focus on the specifics of any outstanding allegations. In that manner, an accused individual can work to protect their legal rights while fighting for the best possible outcome.
Source: southernpoliticalreport.com, “Georgia Boating Laws Change,” Sen. Buddy Carter, May 28, 2013