Due to several serious accidents and fatalities on Georgia lakes, since 2013 penalties for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) are very similar to a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Georgia.
The relevant BUI statute, O.C.G.A. § 52-7-12 (a), states that “no person shall operate, navigate, steer, or drive any moving vessel, or be in actual physical control of any moving vessel, nor shall any person manipulate any moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surfboard, or similar moving device while [under the influence of alcohol, drugs, a combination of alcohol and any drug, marijuana, glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor] ….”
BUI vs. DUI in Georgia:
After the police arrest a person for DUI in Georgia it triggers both a criminal and civil process. In the civil process, the Georgia Department of Driver Services ("DDS") will attempt to administratively suspend your driver's license. This proceeding is called an Administrative License Hearing ("ALS").
When the police arrest someone for DUI in Georgia, that person has only 10 business days to file an appeal to prevent the automatic suspension of their Georgia driving privileges. This appeal is referred to as the "10-day letter." If you do not file this letter timely, your license will be suspended. There is a $150 filing fee to file an appeal with the Department of Driver Services.
As a result, a Georgia Driver can lose his or her privilege to drive at the administrative hearing. Additionally, a driver can lose his license if convicted of the DUI in the criminal court.
A Georgia BUI arrest, on the other hand, triggers a different process. After the arrest, the DNR Ranger or Sheriff's Deputy will serve you a notice of suspension of your boating privileges. Sometimes, the notice is mailed to you. While a DUI has 30 calendar days to file an appeal, you only have 10 days to file an appeal for a BUI; however, there is no filing fee for the appeal. If you fail to file an appeal, the privilege is automatically suspended.
With a BUI, the privilege to operate a vessel is completely decided at the administrative hearing and is not tied to the outcome in the criminal case.
If you have been charged with a BUI in Georgia, contact our office as soon as possible. You only have 10 days to appeal the loss of your boating privileges. Richard Lawson is a former prosecutor who has handled BUI cases throughout Georgia for almost 20 years. Put his experience to work for you now.