Blood alcohol limit could be lowered for Georgia boaters

Monday, Feb. 20, 2012 11:03 AM
Last updated 8:57 PM
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Boaters on Georgia lakes and rivers could be held to the same standards as automobile drivers under a proposal to reduce the legal blood alcohol limit for boating under the influence.

Boaters must have a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent to be charged, but drivers can be prosecuted with a level of 0.08.

Andy Johnson, a state hunter safety volunteer from Tallapoosa, is working to build statewide support for legislation that would make both numbers 0.08.

“This bill passed the House last year just one vote shy of a complete yea by all members,” he said. “But it has to pass the Senate this session before heading to the governor’s desk for signature.”

Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division promotes sobriety while boating as a way to prevent accidents and deaths.

“It is not illegal to have alcohol in an open container on a boat, nor is it illegal for a person operating a boat to drink, provided they are no less safe,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Weaver, the assistant chief of law enforcement for the Department of Natural Resources, in a news release last year. “However, if a person is over the age of 21 and has a blood alcohol content of .10 or higher, they are presumed to be less safe and may be charged with boating under the influence.”

Although there is a perception that operating a boat after consuming alcohol might not be as dangerous as driving a car, many accidents and fatalities in boats are linked to alcohol, Johnson said.

“There is also the issue of drinking on the water all day and then getting in a car and driving home,” he said, citing estimates that as many as 70 percent of recreational boaters end up driving home later that day.

The current proposal, House Bill 315, is awaiting committee action, he said, adding that two similar bills failed in both the House and Senate in the 2009-10 session.

People arrested for BUI can lose their privilege to operate a boat. These privileges are not reinstated until the successful completion of an approved Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program, according to current state regulations. The offender will be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable with up to a $1,000 fine or up to 12 months in prison.

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Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 02/20/12 - 01:40 pm
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1

Why not?

Why not?

David Parker
7919
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David Parker 02/20/12 - 02:31 pm
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The operation of a boat

The operation of a boat requires just as much coordination. Instead of getting thrown from a vehicle and suffering road rash or concussion, you get thrown from a boat, you drown. Both are serious and deserving of the .08 law.

HOWEVER, I see a discrepancy that you can drink an alcoholic drink while driving a boat up to the point where you register the legal limit. One open beer in the car and it's a crime.

If the arguement is that boating and driving are one in the same with regard to the limit, then the same would have to be applicable for open container. Just b/c it's more enjoyable to sip a cold beer while trolling around the banks for some cr@ppie than it is to crack a beer open on the way home from work, doesn't justify the discrepancy.

Little Lamb
40104
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Little Lamb 02/20/12 - 02:40 pm
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The number of people at risk

The number of people at risk from motor vehicle crashes is much, much, much higher than the number of people at risk from boating crashes. The number of actual roadway crashes is much, much, much higher than the number of actual waterway crashes. Therefore, with a risk, benefit analysis; you cannot justify making the presumptive impairment levels the same. This is feel-good legislation that will help not enough to justify the change.

I'd like to see the legislature lower the size and scope of government rather than waste precious time on this.

Riverman1
70479
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Riverman1 02/20/12 - 02:42 pm
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I'm curious if this is only

I'm curious if this is only for motor boats?

David Parker
7919
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David Parker 02/20/12 - 03:33 pm
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My son-in-laws friend was

My son-in-laws friend was killed by an impaired boat driver. Ran their little jon boat right over leaving no chance for survival. I guess the point is that we maybe shouldn't look at the quanity of people at risk, but the risk. Certainly there are statistics to show how many more folks are involved in car/alcohol incidents. There's probably 100 cars to every boat. I'd have to go apples and oranges there.

My take is more about the discrepancy. I figure, if I'm driving from my local zippy mart to the house and I want to open the beer I bought in the 30 seconds from point A to point B, I don't know how criminal that type of behavior is, but yet it's a crime no doubt. Too bad I didn't drive a boat home from work. Moral of the story, become captain of a ship.

beautiful skies today YEAh!

Little Lamb
40104
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Little Lamb 02/20/12 - 03:52 pm
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Any death in a crash is a

Any death in a crash is a tragedy. I love you, David, but "government by anecdote" is destroying this country.

david jennings
502
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david jennings 02/21/12 - 07:41 am
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And don't smoke in your car

And don't smoke in your car either.

itsanotherday1
34600
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itsanotherday1 02/21/12 - 10:03 am
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Hear! Hear! Little Lamb!!

Hear! Hear! Little Lamb!! You know, when tragedy happens to you it is one too many regardless, but legislating on "feeling" rather than common sense is dangerous.

Can anyone tell us how many boating accidents have occurred on Clark's Hill in 50 years, and how many involved collisions with other boats? Of those, how many involved alcohol?

My best friend got a BUI several years ago, sitting 100 ft off his dock in a pontoon boat with friends. It was 10pm, running lights on, and they had pushed back from the dock just to drift and float a bit. DNR comes along and does a safety check (more BS in my book, if you are dumb enough to not have life jackets, you OUGHT to drown- it is just an excuse to sniff you out up close and personal), and nabs him BUI.

JRC2024
6955
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JRC2024 02/21/12 - 10:21 am
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itsanother, maybe they should

itsanother, maybe they should have left a ski rope tied to the boat and the dock so they could pull the boat back and not crank up the motor. I wonder what the DNR officer would have said then. In my younger days I was probably guilty at Clarks Hill with todays laws. Go to an island, stand in the water, cook out and drink beer or go down the river to a sand bar and do the same. The cruises down the river to Savannah and back were something else.
What fun it was.

Riverman1
70479
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Riverman1 02/21/12 - 10:28 am
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So does anyone know if the

So does anyone know if the law applies to nonpower boats? I've also wondered about the pontoon thing. If someone is anchored overnight on the water on a party boat and not moving, does the law apply? I mean would you have to wake them up to test them or what?

Retired Army
17512
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Retired Army 02/21/12 - 11:39 am
1
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Buy a redneck a fish and you

Buy a redneck a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and he'll sit in the boat and drink beer all day.

clumber
43
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clumber 02/21/12 - 12:10 pm
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If I kill you in a boat or a

If I kill you in a boat or a car, you are still dead. What difference does it make to you if I am drunk or cold sober? Check how many deaths due to auto accidents, then see how many were drink related. Conclusion, sober drivers are more dangerous than drunk ones.

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