Although most people are aware that it is illegal to operate a car or motor vehicle on the roads while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, some are not aware that the laws apply to Georgia’s waterways as well. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol.
By operating a boat, people consent to alcohol testing. For people 21 and older, those with a blood alcohol content of more than .08 face charges of BUI. A BUI is a misdemeanor charge carrying the possibility of up to one year of incarceration and a fine of $1,000. A conviction of the offense will also serve to prohibit the person from operating a boat until they have completed an approved DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction program successfully.
The same rules apply to those under the age of 21, however, the BAC threshold is .02. People who refuse testing lose their boating privileges for up to a year. The evidence of a refusal may be used by the prosecution against them. Finally, persons who are operating a boat or personal watercraft while under the influence while a child younger than 14 is on board may additionally be charged with child endangerment.
When people have been accused of a BUI or DUI, they have a right to have a vigorous defense to the charge. An attorney who has experience in defending clients under such circumstances may be able to help in a particular case by challenging the results of the BAC test or the conditions under which it was administered, among other potential defenses.
Source: Georgia Department of Natural Resources, “Alcohol And Drugs”, October 23, 2014