The boating season is about to begin in earnest in the next few weeks. While boating can make for a great summer day, certain safety and legality measures must be followed. Below are 5 important facts to remember when you’re out on the water.

  1. In terms of Boating Under the Influence (BUI), “boating” includes operating, navigating, steering or driving any moving vessel on the waterways of Georgia. This includes boats, jet skis, moving water skis and moving aquaplanes.
  2. Rangers from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) can stop your boat for any reason. Unlike a stop involving a car, the police can stop your vessel for the purpose of verifying proper documentation, for proper safety equipment on board, and more. In one Georgia case, the court held that “merely observing a can of beer in the hand of one who is otherwise operating a boat in a safe manner gives cause for a stop of the vessel.”
  3. If you are arrested for BUI and refuse to take the state chemical test, your operating privileges can be suspended for a year.
  4. The legal limit for BUI is the same in Georgia as it is for DUI (Driving Under the Influence): .08 grams of alcohol. However, you can be charged with BUI if you are operating your vessel in a less safe manner due to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs even if you have less than the legal limit of alcohol in your system.
  5. If you are BUI and cause either death or serious injury to someone, you can be charged with a felony, punishable by imprisonment for 3 to 15 years. Unlike automobiles, which have many safety features designed to protect us in the event of an accident, most watercrafts have few (if any) safety features, and serious injuries and deaths can occur on the water. Please be mindful of boating safety this summer.

While a BUI conviction doesn’t result in the loss of your driver’s license, it can result in hefty fines, community service, probation, and even jail time. Therefore, if you’re arrested for BUI, you should hire only a Georgia traffic lawyer experienced in BUI cases to defend your rights. Schedule a consultation with Mickey Roberts, PC to discuss your case, or, for more legal tips, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.