Heading out to the lake, river, or ocean for a day on the waves is a great way to have some fun and beat the heat. While there, people may choose to go boating, hop on a jet ski, or participate in a number of other water activities. When operating any watercraft it is important to be aware that there are similar rules that apply to watercraft operators that apply to drivers operating a motor vehicle -- namely, that you cannot do so while intoxicated. The consequences for boating while under the influence can be just as severe as the consequences of driving under the influence and include a hefty fine or time behind bars.
Don't take a BUI lightly. If you have been charged with boating under the influence, please do not hesitate to contact Hall County DUI Lawyer Richard Lawson today.
Boating Under The Influence In Georgia
Under Georgia law, "[n]o 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 . . . [t]he person's alcohol concentration is 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." O.C.G.A. § 52-7-12.
Some Things To Be Aware Of
It is important to note that boating under the influence doesn't apply only to operating a boat. Operating other types of watercraft while intoxicated can also result in a BUI charge. These can include:
- Motor Boats
- Jet Skis
- Water Skis
It is also important to note that Georgia's BUI laws only apply to public waterways. Thus, they do not, normally, apply to bodies of water like private lakes. In addition, as with a DUI, after an arrest for this offense an individual has a limited time to request an administrative hearing in order to contest the suspension of his or her boating privileges.
Legal BAC Limit
There are different ways that a person can end up facing BUI charges. These are discussed in more detail below:
BAC Over 0.08:
Since May 2013, the 'per se' intoxication level for BUI cases has been the same as the level for DUI cases. The law states that if a boat or other watercraft operator has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, that operator is presumed to be too intoxicated to safely operate his or her craft.
BAC Under 0.08:
In addition to the 'per se' intoxication level, an individual can also face charges if he or she is operating a watercraft while "[u]nder the influence of alcohol [or drugs] to the extent that it is less safe for the person to operate, navigate, steer, drive, manipulate, or be in actual physical control of a moving vessel, moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surfboard, or similar moving device." O.C.G.A. § 52-7-12.
Under 21 Years Of Age:
For those under the age of 21, the presumed intoxication level is considerably lower. If an individual who is under the age of 21 has a BAC of 0.02 or more then that individual can face BUI charges.
Implied Consent And Boating
As with driving, there is an implied consent law in Georgia for watercraft operators. The law states, in pertinent part:
The State of Georgia considers that persons who are under the influence of alcohol, toxic vapors, or drugs while operating a vessel on the waters of this state constitute a direct and immediate threat to the welfare and safety of the general public. Therefore, any person who operates a vessel upon the waters of this state shall be deemed to have given consent, subject to subsection (c) of this Code section, to a chemical test or tests of his or her blood, breath, or urine or other bodily substance for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content of his or her blood if arrested for any offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was operating, navigating, steering, driving, manipulating, or in actual physical control of a moving vessel, moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surfboard, or similar moving device while under the influence of alcohol, toxic vapors, or any drug. O.C.G.A. § 52-7-12.
Effectively, this means that if a law enforcement officer requests an individual who was operating a boat, jet ski, or other qualifying craft to submit to a breath test, then there can be consequences for refusing to comply with that request. These consequences can include having that refusal used as evidence against the individual or that individual having his or her boating privileges suspended.
Penalties For BUI
A first BUI offense is typically considered to be a misdemeanor. The penalties for this offense can include:
- A fine between $300-$1,000
- Jail time ranging from 10 days to 12 months. However, the entire jail sentence can be suspended at the judge's discretion. As a note, if the individual convicted of BUI had a BAC of 0.08 or higher, the judge can "suspend, stay, or probate all but 24 hours of any term of imprisonment." O.C.G.A. § 52-7-12.
- 40 hours of community service for those over 21 and 20 hours of community service for those under 21
- Going through a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program as well as a clinical evaluation and any treatment program if such a program is recommended
- Probation for up to 12 months
In addition to criminal consequences, a person convicted of a BUI can have his or her boating privileges suspended for up to one year.
As a note, these are just the consequences of a first BUI conviction. Subsequent convictions can carry greater penalties including bigger fines and longer jail sentences.
Contact a Hall County BUI Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been charged with boating under the influence in Hall County, or anywhere else in the State of Georgia, please do not hesitate to contact Hall County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson today. You can reach our office by calling (404) 816-4440 or contact us online.