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Georgia BUI Penalties

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Georgia Boating Under the Influence Penalties

Georgia Boating Under the Influence Punishments

The Boat Safety Act of Georgia prohibits persons from boating under the influence (BUI).  BUI means operating any boat, personal watercraft (jet skis, wave runners), water skis, sailboat, or sailboard while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Also, it is illegal for an owner of a boat or personal watercraft to let anyone operate their boat or personal watercraft while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In 2012 there were two different but awful boating accidents on Georgia's Lake Lanier that shed light on our boating laws and need for change.  In the Georgia Legislative Session of 2013, the Lake Lanier Legislative Delegation along with the governor of Georgia sought out remedies for the holes that existed in our boating laws.  There were open forums to discuss possible changes but there were many that felt the current laws were effective.   But in May of 2013, Georgia Senate Bill 136 went into effect.  This law addressed some of the major concerns that citizens and legislators had as well as some minor legislative issues.

The main part of the new BUI law is the change of BAC from .10 to .08.   Now the boating “legal limit” matches the motor vehicle law of .08.  Now there are stiffer penalties for first-time and repeat offenders that are more in line with those that were put in effect in 2008 for automobile DUI violations.

Richard Lawson is a former DUI Prosecutor with extensive experience both prosecuting and defending boaters charged with Boating Under the Influence. He is also the top-rated and most reviewed Georgia lawyer on Avvo, the attorney rating service.

Georgia BUI Consequences Reviewed:

Every person convicted of violating this Code section shall, upon a first or second conviction thereof, be guilty of a misdemeanor; upon a third conviction thereof, be guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor; and upon a fourth or subsequent conviction thereof, be guilty of a felony except as otherwise provided in paragraph (4) of this subsection and shall be punished as follows:

For the first BUI conviction with no conviction of and no plea of nolo contendere accepted to a charge of violating this Code section within the previous ten years, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained or pleas of nolo contendere were accepted to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained or a plea of nolo contendere is accepted:

  1. A fine of not less than $300.00 and not more than $1,000.00, which fine shall not, except as provided in subsection (n) of this Code section, be subject to suspension, stay, or probation;
  2. A period of imprisonment of not fewer than ten days nor more than 12 months, which period of imprisonment may, at the sole discretion of the judge, be suspended, stayed, or probated, except that if the offender's alcohol concentration at the time of the offense was 0.08 grams or more, the judge may suspend, stay, or probate all but 24 hours of any term of imprisonment imposed under this subparagraph;
  3. Not fewer than 40 hours of community service, except that for a conviction for violation of subsection (k) of this Code section where the person‘s alcohol concentration at the time of the offense was less than 0.08 grams, the period of community service shall be not fewer than 20 hours;
  4. Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program as defined in Code Section 40-5-1. The sponsor of any such program shall provide written notice of the Department of Drivers Service's approval of the program to the person upon enrollment in the program;
  5. A clinical evaluation as defined in Code Section 40-5-1 and, if recommended as a part of such evaluation, completion of a substance abuse treatment program as defined in Code Section 40-5-1; provided, however, that in the court's discretion, such evaluation may be waived; and
  6. If the person is sentenced to a period of imprisonment for fewer than 12 months, a period of probation of 12 months less any days during which the person is actually incarcerated.

For the second BUI conviction within a ten-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained or pleas of nolo contendere were accepted to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained or a plea of nolo contendere is accepted:

  1. A fine of not less than $600.00 and not more than $1,000.00, which fine shall not, except as provided in subsection (n) of this Code section, be subject to suspension, stay, or probation;
  2. A period of imprisonment of not fewer than 90 days and not more than 12 months. The judge shall probate at least a portion of such term of imprisonment, in accordance with subparagraph (F) of this paragraph, and to such other terms and conditions as the judge may impose; provided, however, that the offender shall be required to serve not fewer than 72 hours of actual incarceration;
  3. Not fewer than 30 days of community service; Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program as defined in Code Section 40-5-1. The sponsor of any such program shall provide written notice of the Department of Drivers Service's approval of the program to the person upon enrollment in the program;
  4. A clinical evaluation as defined in Code Section 40-5-1 and, if recommended as a part of such evaluation, completion of a substance abuse treatment program as defined in Code Section 40-5-1; and
  5. A period of probation of 12 months less any days during which the person is actually incarcerated.

For the third BUI conviction within a ten-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained or pleas of nolo contendere were accepted to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained or a plea of nolo contendere is accepted:

  1. A fine of not less than $1,000.00 and not more than $5,000.00, which fine shall not, except as provided in subsection (n) of this Code section, be subject to suspension, stay, or probation;
  2. A mandatory period of imprisonment of not fewer than 120 days and not more than 12 months. The judge shall probate at least a portion of such term of imprisonment, in accordance with subparagraph (F) of this paragraph, and to such other terms and conditions as the judge may impose; provided, however, that the offender shall be required to serve not fewer than 15 days of actual incarceration;
  3. Not fewer than 30 days of community service;
  4. Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program as defined in Code Section 40-5-1. The sponsor of any such program shall provide written notice of the Department of Drivers Service's approval of the program to the person upon enrollment in the program;
  5. A clinical evaluation as defined in Code Section 40-5-1 and, if recommended as a part of such evaluation, completion of a substance abuse treatment program as defined in Code Section 40-5-1; and
  6. A period of probation of 12 months less any days during which the person is actually incarcerated.

For the fourth or subsequent BUI conviction within a ten-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained or pleas of nolo contendere were accepted to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained or a plea of nolo contendere is accepted:

  1. A fine of not less than $1,000.00 and not more than $5,000.00, which fine shall not, except as provided in subsection (n) of this Code section, be subject to suspension, stay, or probation;
  2. A period of imprisonment of not less than one year and not more than five years; provided, however, that the judge may suspend, stay, or probate all but 90 days of any term of imprisonment imposed under this paragraph. The judge shall probate at least a portion of such term of imprisonment, in accordance with subparagraph (F) of this paragraph, and to such other terms and conditions as the judge may impose;
  3. Not fewer than 60 days of community service; provided, however, that if a defendant is sentenced to serve three years of actual imprisonment, the judge may suspend the community service;
  4. Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program as defined in Code Section 40-5-1. The sponsor of any such program shall provide written notice of the Department of Driver Service's approval of the program to the person upon enrollment in the program;
  5. A clinical evaluation as defined in Code Section 40-5-1 and, if recommended as a part of such evaluation, completion of a substance abuse treatment program as defined in Code Section 40-5-1; and
  6. A period of probation of five years less any days during which the person is actually imprisoned; provided, however, that if the ten-year period of time as measured in this paragraph commenced prior to May 15, 2013, then such fourth or subsequent conviction shall be a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and punished as provided in paragraph (3) of this subsection.

For the purpose of imposing a sentence under this subsection, a plea of nolo contendere based on a violation of this Code section shall constitute a conviction; and for purposes of determining the number of prior convictions or pleas of nolo contendere pursuant to the felony provisions of paragraph (4) of this subsection, only those offenses for which a conviction is obtained or a plea of nolo contendere is accepted on or after May 15, 2013, shall be considered; provided, however, that nothing in this subsection shall be construed as limiting or modifying in any way sentence enhancement provisions under Georgia law, including, but not limited to, provisions relating to punishment of recidivist offenders pursuant to Title 17.

If the payment of the fine required under subsection (m) of this Code section will impose an economic hardship on the defendant, the judge, at his or her sole discretion, may order the defendant to pay such fine in installments, and such order may be enforced through a contempt proceeding or a revocation of any probation otherwise authorized by this Code section.

In the sole discretion of the judge, he or she may suspend up to one-half of the fine imposed under subsection (m) of this Code section conditioned upon the defendant's undergoing treatment in a substance abuse treatment program as defined in Code Section 40-5-1.

As used in this Code section, the term ‘personal watercraft' shall have the same meaning as set forth in Code Section 52-7-8.2.”

Watch Out For BUI Arrests On Georgia's Lakes and Waterways:

During the summer months and definitely during the Fourth of July holiday season, many people head to the nearest lake with their families and friends to celebrate and have a good time.

Yes, the holiday is a time to celebrate, but we must also practice safety.  Boating and booze definitely do not mix!  Alcohol impairs your ability to operate a boat or personal watercraft just as it impairs your ability to drive a car or operate heavy machinery.  There are other things to be considered that could possibly intensify your impairment when you are on the water, such as the motion of the boat and dehydration.

Losing your balance is one of the first things lost when you drink alcohol, and when that is combined with the motion or rocking of a boat, you have a bigger chance of falling overboard.  Even strong swimmers drown.  Many drownings are caused when an impaired person falls off a boat and hits his or her head.

Further, the sun causes you to sweat and that removes water from your body, but not the alcohol.  This means you can become significantly impaired in a really short period of time if you are not careful.  A study of boating fatalities in four states was done and it was discovered that fifty-one percent of the people that died had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04 or higher.  A BAC of .10 was found in 30% of the deaths.

Here are some myths about alcohol:

  1. Beer is NOT harmless or less intoxicating than liquor or ANY alcoholic beverage
  2. Only time will sober a person, not coffee, energy drinks, or cold showers.  The alcohol must be metabolized.
  3. It isn't always easy to tell if someone is impaired.  Many drinkers are able to mask their drunkenness.
  4. YOU are not the best person to judge yourself on whether or not you are safe to drive because judgment is one of the first things lost when persons consume alcoholic beverages

Be safe while enjoyng the beautiful lakes of Georgia:

Remember, safety while boating begins before you even get on the water.  Don't wait for a tragic accident to happen before you make yourself familiar with Georgia's boating laws.

It is our hope that everyone operates his or her vessel responsibility.  If you have been unfortunately charged with BUI in Georgia, we are here to help.  We have attorneys who understand Georgia's Boating Under the Influence Laws and are here to help 24/7.  Like DUI, you only have 10 days to file an appeal with the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) to prevent the suspension of your boating privileges.  Remember, the administrative appeal process is the only way to restore your privilege to boat. Call before it's too late.

Our Attorneys

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    Richard Lawson

    Richard Lawson has devoted his entire career to DUI Defense. He ex...

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    Kimberly A. Berry

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Recommendations

  • Kimberly Berry took care of my case

    I could not be a happier with how my case turned out. Kimberly helped reduce my sentence to reckless driving. she really took care of me and all of my needs. Read On

  • Mr. Lawson surpassed my expectations

    Not only is his previous experience as a DUI prosecutor, educational background and experience in the courtroom a plus, but his promptness in returning my telephone calls and answering my questions helped me through the most difficult time of my life. He restored my faith that anything was possib... Read On

  • Richard Lawson exceeded all expectations

    Richard initially set me up with one of his associates Kimberly berry. I could have not been happier with Kimberly. When it came to the day of my trial, Richard actually went out of his way to sit in with Kimberly during the negotiations. They negotiated a reduced sentence. I could have not beeen... Read On

Recent Case Results

  • This case was in Helen Municipal Court.  The client was charged with a DUI and four counts of DUI Child Endangerment.  In Georgia, for every child under the age of 14 in a vehicle it is considered a separate DUI offense.  The client would have been declared an habitual violator from one arrest an... Read On

  • Client was charged with a suspended license because he did not reinstate his privilege to drive after the expiration of his restricted license.  Per my advice, the client properly reinstated his license the day after he was charged.  Case Dismissed in Cobb County State Court.  Read On

  • Client was a resident of New York who was arrested while he was visiting Georgia for pleasure. He was charged with DUI, Reckless Driving, and Speeding 37 MPH over the speed limit. We were able to get the client an unbelievable outcome in Hampton, Georgia. His DUI dismissed, his speeding ticket wa... Read On

Choosing the Best DUI Lawyer

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When you are arrested for DUI in Georgia, finding the right Lawyer is Job #1. At the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson we will investigate your case and find the best possible legal defense to your DUI in Georgia. You are in good hands with Richard Lawson and his associates. We will work tirelessly to help you while compassionately holding your hand throughout the entire DUI Defense Process.

Georgia DUI Defense Attorneys

At the Law Office of Richard S. Lawson, we have offices conveniently located throughout metro Atlanta and throughout Georgia. If we do not have a convenient office, we will come to you. We practice throughout Metro Atlanta and North Georgia. If your case is in an area we do not serve, we will find you an attorney in your area free of charge. Our office is part of a State-wide network of Georgia DUI Lawyers. Contact us 24/7 for immediate legal help. Our attorneys are standing by. Your DUI Case will not defend itself. Your Best Georgia DUI Defense Begins Here!