Georgia law is very strict about not operating machinery or automobiles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). Law enforcement is constantly on high alert for DUI, and is not afraid to arrest anyone showing signs of intoxication.
Many Georgia residents are unaware that Georgia also has laws in place outlining boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs (BUI). BUI is similar to a DUI, except that it is a separate law with separate statutes and penalties specially designed for individuals operating boats while intoxicated. Georgia considers the following vehicles as boats that are governed by its BUI laws:
- Any size boat
- Personal watercraft
- Water skis
BUI is considered a serious offense, and the laws are strict. BUI is a tricky – but real – facet of Georgia law because many people utilize the large lakes and rivers in the Metro Atlanta area for holidays, parties, and special events.
What Constitutes a BUI?
A BUI is very similar to a DUI in terms of the legal guidelines. According to Georgia law, the following can be classified as a BUI:
- Any individual under 21 years of age (a minor) operating a boat or watercraft with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.02 or higher
- Any individual over 21 years of age operating a boat or watercraft with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, or if the individual tests positive for drugs
Penalties for BUI
Also similar to a DUI, a BUI in Georgia carries stiff penalties if a conviction is obtained. Georgia law states the following penalties for a BUI conviction:
- Loss of boater’s license until completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Incarceration in prison for up to one year
- Additional charges of endangering a child if any individual on the boat is under 14 years of age at the time of the BUI arrest
- Anyone operating with a Georgia boater’s license provides consent to law enforcement to be tested for drugs or alcohol upon the officer’s request. Refusal to submit to test can result in the loss of the boater’s license for up to one year automatically
Any Georgia resident operating a boat or watercraft should be careful to understand BUI laws and make preparations to defend oneself in the event of an arrest. Any alcohol or drug related arrest could result in strict penalties and a negative mark on the individual’s record. Fortunately, like anyone who is accused of a crime, Georgia residents have the right to obtain legal representation to fight the charges and seek the best outcome possible for their individual criminal case. It is the burden of the prosecutor to prove that an individual was intoxicated to the point of being unable to safely operate a boat or watercraft. The presence of an odor of alcohol or a positive Breathalyzer test may not be enough evidence to prove the accusation of intoxication.
Georgia boaters who have been arrested for BUI can benefit from taking swift action in contacting an Atlanta based criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable in DUI and BUI defense. The Atlanta Criminal Defense team at Abt Law Firm, LLC understands that criminal law has many nuances that can be overwhelming for individuals who have been arrested and are unsure of what to do to protect themselves. To fight BUI charges and avoid the strict penalties that accompany a conviction, call the Abt Law Firm, LLC right away at (678) 582-2272.