BUI: Lawyers for Boating Under the Influence in Georgia
By: Cory Yager, Ex-Cop, Legal Book Co-Author, DUI Lawyer and BUI Attorney and a Full-Time Georgia Lake Resident
The police assigned to Georgia lakes and waterways work for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This page and three connecting pages (linked below) comprehensively covers boating laws in Georgia. These other, more extensive pages cover GA regulations, the BUI GA statute, and our Alcohol and Boats Legal Tips and Boating Safety Guidelines.
Virtually 95% of GA boating BUI arrests in GA are made by GA DNR officers, with the remainder of arrests by county or city officers or Georgia State Patrol. Many of the county and municipal arrests come at boat ramps, as law enforcement officers arrive to catch a departing intoxicated boater before he or she can drive away.
Georgia boating laws have some similarities to Georgia DUI laws but differ in many parts of the wording and in the resulting penalties, if convicted. Both sets of impaired driving or operating laws pertain to alcohol or drugs. Plus, due to several highly publicized BUI death cases, the permissible blood alcohol content (BAC) has now been lowered to 0.08 grams percent for GA BUI laws and for a DUI in Georgia.
Many people ask us, "Can you drink and drive a boat?" One thing is for certain: if a DNR officer sees you boating and drinking from a beer can or bottle with the brand label clearly visible, your vessel is getting stopped and boarded.
Georgia’s lakes & waterways including Lake Lanier, Lake Allatoona, Carter’s Lake, Lake Blue Ridge, Lake Hartwell, Lake Sinclair, Lake Oconee, Lake Burton, Lake Jackson, and Lake Nottely are busier this year than in the past. With people turning to activities closer to home because of COVID-19 many Georgians have come to a lake or river for fun and relaxation. Georgia DNR is out in force on Georgia’s lakes patrolling for unsafe boating practices and impaired (BUI) boaters.BUI vs DUI: Does a BUI Conviction Create a Criminal Record?
Boating under the Influence (BUI) is a misdemeanor or felony crime in the Peach State. Since May 15, 2013, when the Legislature drastically changed BUI laws in Georgia, a felony for repeat offenders did not exist. Prior to then, only a boat accident with a BUI driver causing serious injury or death could face 15 years in state prison for each serious bodily injury or fatality caused by a GA BUI.
Being convicted of operating a boat intoxicated will be part of the GBI and GCIC records for that offender. Plus, because arrest occurs and fingerprints and a mug shot are taken, this information is required to be transmitted to the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) that is overseen by the FBI.
Does a BUI Affect Your Driver's License in Georgia? One question that commonly arises is, "Can you get a DUI on a boat?" The answer is NO, as far as Georgia's motor vehicle crime, which can only happen on a highway or any other place ON LAND, within the state of Georgia. Many states DO have a comprehensive law that creates ONE crime of DUI or DWI, whether in the air, on water or on a roadway, but Georgia's Legislature has always kept the crimes separated.Georgia Boating Regulations
Vessel operators need to know Georgia’s boating rules and safe boating practices. This helps limit the chance of being stopped by Georgia DNR or Sheriff’s Boat Patrols on Georgia’s lakes. Plus, unlike a motor vehicle on a roadway that requires articulable suspicion of some crime or equipment defect to be able to pull you over, no necessity for 4th Amendment compliance applies to Georgia boating.
Georgia DNR and local police do not need ANY reason to activate blue lights and confront you on a nearby lake or navigable river in Georgia. Georgia DNR and local police and sheriff’s patrols randomly can perform a safety check of boats and passengers for flotation devices on Georgia’s waterways without articulable suspicion or probable cause.Can You Drink on a Boat If You're Not Driving?
GA boating laws don't prevent beer on a boat or other types of drinking on a boat, but (when a vessel is under power and moving through the water) the vessel operator is held to similar rules regarding drunk boating, when too much alcohol has been consumed.
In fact boating laws in GA speak in terms of "zero tolerance" for those operators under age 21, since a DNR ranger will not let you operate further if you show alcohol in your system, even if not ticketed for a boating DUI. A BUI charge for those under age 21 creates the same 1-year loss of ability to operate a vessel, if convicted of BUI boating.
Limit your chances of interaction with Georgia DNR and sheriff’s patrols on Georgia’s lakes such as Lake Allatoona and Lake Lanier by following all local laws and ordinances governing boating and vessel operation. Pull into a cove, drop anchor, and shut down the motor before any BUI drink celebrations begin.
Keep all vessel lights in proper working order, properly positioned, and use them when lighting and visibility are low. Make sure your boat is properly registered and all required markings are affixed before launching your boat to avoid being targeted for boarding by Georgia DNR and sheriff’s patrols on the lake.
Have you been arrested for a BUI in GA? Do not worry about finding law firms near me, since we cover the State. Our three Georgia BUI lawyers, Larry Kohn, William Head and the author Cory E, Yager can help you with your Boating Under the Influence case in the Peach State. Our attorneys in Georgia travel statewide.
Because a special BUI law on suspension of your boating privileges requires anyone arrested for a Georgia BUI to file an administrative appeal within TEN (10) days of arrest date, call today for a FREE consultation. 404-567-5515
Our office is available 24/7 to provide help. Call the award-winning law partners at Georgia Criminal Defense for legal advice to protect your legal rights ASAP.Other BUI and Related Page Links Worth Reading
- Boating Under the Influence Penalties Chart
- Rules for Georgia Boating Laws: Life Jackets
- Special life jacket rules for children under 13 years of age on Vessel with drinking boater
- Online boating and safety education course for recreational boating enthusiasts
- Boating under Influence Statute in Georgia, Ga. Code Ann., Section 52-7-12