ATLANTA – Increased traffic on Lake Lanier outside Atlanta led the Senate to unanimously pass tougher boating laws for the whole state Friday.
Boaters will have to observe stricter alcohol limits, training requirements and life-jacket rules.
Senate Bill 136 came from the new Lake Lanier legislative caucus, which met in December with users of that lake who requested the legislation.
“I know that Senate Bill 136 is a statewide bill, but in particular Lake Lanier, because of the urbanization of the area and the encroachment in direct relationship with Atlanta, we have an overpopulation, especially on holidays,” said Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford. “Unfortunately, we’ve had several instances of boating accidents and boating drownings.”
The bill is named for three child victims in those accidents. Kile Glover and Jake and Griffin Prince.
It would place age limits on those who can drive boats and requires boaters born after 1997 to take free online training or submit to a briefing even to rent a vessel.
Because half of boating fatalities involve drinking, the bill would drop the legal blood alcohol level from 0.10 to 0.8 to match the level for driving an automobile drunk. For consistency, the bill also lowers the level for illegal hunting while drunk.
The sponsors of the bill, working with Gov. Nathan Deal, also expanded the age for mandatory life jackets on a moving boat from 10 to 13.