Penalties for Operating Under the Influence
The Georgia Boat Safety Act sets these penalties.
- Those arrested for BUI may lose their privilege to operate a boat or PWC until they successfully complete a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program approved by the Georgia Department of Driver Services. They also will be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and/or prison time for up to one year.
- A person found operating a boat or PWC under the influence while a child under the age of 14 years is on board also is guilty of the separate charge of endangering a child.
Video: Georgia BUI
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Everybody knows you’re not supposed to drink and drive a car. Boating’s the same, though, right? I mean, what are the consequences, and what should people know?”
- Sergeant Mike Burgamy
Number one, we take boating under the influence very seriously, and we enforce it aggressively. If you’re under 21 and you’re .02 or higher, you’re considered under the influence. If you’re over 21 and .08 or higher, you are considered under the influence. There is no open container law out here on the lake. Passengers can actually have open containers of beverages. But if you’re going to be the operator, stay sober. Don’t drink.
Right. And the whole reason, I guess, for that is it’s kind of dangerous when you’re out on the water, right? And it’s just like driving a car or more dangerous, right?
- Sergeant Burgamy
Yeah, actually in my eyes, it’s more dangerous. You think about driving a car, you have lanes of travel. You have traffic control devices to help govern you out there. Out here on the water, you don’t have any of that. You have 360 degrees of mobility. You have boats going in every which way direction. So ultimately, you as an operator, you have to have your head on a swivel, and you have to be alert at all times of your surroundings. When you drink, alcohol tends to dull that. And taking the waves and the sun, also that takes a toll on your body. Folks don’t think about that. So if you’re going to drink, make sure you’re not driving. Also, if you’re the owner of a boat, you cannot allow someone else to drive while under the influence. And furthermore, last, and most importantly, if you have children on the boat and they’re 14 years of age or under, you could be charged with a separate offense of DUI child endangerment. So bottom line is boat sober. If you’re going to drive, don’t drink.