Can I Drink On My Boat?
A new law was passed last year, making it legal to float under the influence. Some people took this to believe that the state made it legal to drink on one’s own boat. This is not the case. The floating while drinking law pertains only to floating on tubes on the water within 100 feet of shore. It is still illegal to drink alcohol and operate a boat on the waters of the state.
According to the state’s Department of Natural Resources, the Georgia Boat Safety Act makes it illegal for anyone to boat under the influence. This includes the operation of a sailboat, motorboat, personal watercraft, sailboard, water skis or similar device. A boat’s owner can also be criminally charged if they allow a passenger who is intoxicated to operate the boat or personal watercraft.
The laws of Georgia state that it is illegal for any person under the age of 21 years to operate a personal watercraft or boat with a blood alcohol content of 0.02 or greater. The law also says that any person 21 and over is operating illegally if their blood alcohol content is 0.08 or greater. These are the same percentages that determine a charge of driving under the influence when operating a motor vehicle on land.
A person who is arrested for and convicted of boating under the influence could lose their boating privileges until they pass a Department of Driver Services-approved DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program. The operator will also be given fines not to exceed $1,000 and could be sentenced to prison for up to a year.
When a person operates a boat or personal watercraft, they automatically consent to be tested for alcohol or drugs. If the operator refused any tests being administered by a law enforcement officer, they face additional penalties. If there is a passenger on the boat under the age of 14 at the time of the BUI charge, there is an additional endangering a child charge.
Can you drink on your own boat? Certainly. If you do choose to drink on your boat, don’t operate it. Consider that your boat is a vehicle and many of the same laws pertain to it as they do to your car. Boating under the influence is considered a serious crime in Georgia, and law enforcement officers target offenders. When everyone boats sober, fewer accident occur and people are able to enjoy their time on the water without incident.
If you have been arrested for and charged with boating under the influence in Atlanta, you do have legal rights. Reach out to our team of experienced boating under the influence attorneys to learn what those rights are. We are ready to mount a strong defense on your behalf. Call our office today to schedule your free case evaluation.