Lake Lanier is often a popular destination during the summer for many Georgians. Though there is no open container law on the water, boaters will face jail time if they are caught being under the influence while operating a watercraft. Over Memorial Day Weekend, 29 people received citations for boating under the influence while on Lake Lanier. As a Georgia D.U.I. Lawyer, I know that like any D.U.I. charge, Boating Under the Influence carries hefty fines and penalties. Many people are not aware of what constitutes boating under the influence and what the potential penalties may be. In today's post, I will be explaining Georgia's B.U.I. Law.
Boating Under the Influence in Georgia
First, it's important to realize what is considered a “vehicle” for B.U.I. purposes. 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] …” Accordingly, a boater may receive a B.U.I. if they are under the influence and operating any watercraft, including motor boats, jet skis, sailboats, water skis, and surfboards.
Next, what amount of alcohol is over the legal limit for boating? Just like driving a vehicle, O.C.G.A. § 52-7-12(a)(4) explains that it is against Georgia B.U.I. law for any person's blood alcohol concentration (B.A.C.) to be “0.08 grams or more at any time within three hours after such operating, navigating, steering, driving, manipulating, or being in actual physical control of a moving vessel, moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surfboard, or similar moving device from alcohol consumed before such operating, navigating, steering, driving, manipulating, or being in actual physical control ended.”
Finally, you need to know the penalties associated with a B.U.I. charge. A common misconception that many people have is that a B.U.I. conviction can affect someone's ability to drive their car. While a B.U.I. is a serious misdemeanor that has the potential to result in jail time and fines, it will only affect a person's boating privileges.
The minimum penalties for a B.U.I. include 24 hours in jail, 12 months of probation, a $300 fine, 40 hours of community service, a clinical evaluation and any recommended treatment, as well as completion of a D.U.I. Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Course.
As a Georgia D.U.I. Attorney, I know that a charge of B.U.I. is different than a D.U.I. You need a qualified attorney with experience defending B.U.I. cases. At the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson, our team of attorneys knows how to protect both your freedom and your privilege to boat in Georgia. If you have received a B.U.I. in Georgia, call us now for immediate assistance.