As an attorney who represents boating under the influence cases in Georgia, it is incumbent on me to remind my fellow friends and neighbors to make good decisions this boating season.
Georgia’s Boating Laws and Regulations are designed to ensure that people will have a good time on our waterways, while at the same time operate their vessels safety.
Georgia BUI Laws are strict and mirror many aspects of our Driving Under the Influence Laws. Georgia Boating Under the Influence Penalties are parallel our DUI laws expect insofar as driving is concerned.
If charged with a BUI in Georgia, you only have 10 days to file an appeal to continue your boating privilege. Otherwise, that privilege will be suspended for up to one year. Unlike in a driving case, after the 10 days, your boating privilege will still be suspended up and until you have a an administrate hearing. At the hearing, the DNR Ranger is represented by the Georgia Attorney General's Office, and it is taken very seriously.
People sometimes ask me why boating cases are taken as seriously as driving cases. The answer is quite clear. Boating can be dangerous. Every year, we have people who die or are injured in boating accidents.
Less than a decade ago, Georgia had a rash of boating fatalities and injuries. In 2012 and 2013, there were a slew of boating accidents that resulted in charges of BUI, injury by vessel in Georgia, and homicide by vessel in Georgia. The worst of the accidents was an accident that resulted in the death of two boys on Lake Lanier involving BUI in Forsyth County.
Our legislature reacted to those accidents by making our boating laws and penalties similar to our driving laws.
What should we all do to safely enjoy the season?
- Do not consume alcohol while operating a vessel.
- Have proper safety equipment, including life vests for everyone on board
- Have a first aid kit that is properly stocked and check expiration dates on everything in it
- Maintain your boat properly and check all running lights
- Do not have more people on your boat than recommended by its manufacturer
- Have someone trained in first aid and CPR on your boat if possible
- Obey all no wake zone markings and other rules of the waterway
- Do not consume illegal drugs
- Come in if you are tired
- Consume a proper amount of water to stay hydrated
- Avoid peer pressure that can cause antisocial behavior
- Turn off the engine on your vessel if approached by law enforcement and obey any lawful order.
- As mama said, “Don't act the fool.”
I hope that I have compiled a good starting list for those of you who will be on the water this summer in Georgia. I also hope that I have made it clear that BUI is just as serious as DUI in Georgia.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI or BUI or any other related offense, contact our offices today.