The Department of Natural Resources had a busy Labor Day Weekend in 2014. During the three-day holiday weekend, the DNR investigated four drownings, nine boating incidents, and 17 boating under the influence (BUI) cases. Last year, the DNR investigated one drowning, six boating incidents, and 18 BUIs.
One of the most popular lakes in the state, Lake Lanier, saw five BUI arrests this year, down from six last year.
The decrease in BUI arrests may be due to increased awareness of the “Jake and Griffin Prince BUI Law,” which lowered the legal blood alcohol concentration to 0.08, mirroring Georgia's DUI law. Prior to the implementation of this law, which took effect on May 15, 2013, the legal limit for boating was 0.10. This law was passed after a high-profile accident on Lake Lanier (in Hall County) that resulted in the deaths of Jake and Griffin Prince.
If a person is arrested for BUI after testing over 0.08 or after refusing a state-administered chemical test, he or she is facing BUI Penalties that include a possible one-year suspension of his or her boating privileges in Georgia. That person has ten days to appeal this administrative suspension by sending an appeal letter to the Department of Natural Resources. Note that this a separate and distinct agency than the Department of Driver Services (DDS), the agency that processes 10-day letters for DUIs.
A common misconception is that a BUI can affect your privilege to drive your car. Although this is not the case, this does not mean that BUI is something that can be taken lightly. BUI, like DUI, is a misdemeanor offense and carries serious consequences.
Georgia Boating Under the Influence law mandates that a person who pleads guilty to or is convicted of a first BUI within a 10 year period must be sentenced to:
- A fine no less than $300, and no more than $1,000;
- A minimum of 24 hours of jail time;
- A minimum of 40 hours of community service;
- Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program;
- A clinical evaluation;
- 12 months of probation.
In addition to the above penalties, further charges (and associated penalties) are possible if an individual has children on the boat with him, or if an accident occurs during the course of a BUI incident.