Alcohol levels for Georgia boaters could become stricter

Deaths prompt BUI law change

Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013 4:31 PM
Last updated Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 1:21 AM
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A renewed push to strengthen Georgia’s laws against boating under the influence of alcohol is gaining widespread support.

Capt. Mark Padgett, regional law enforcement supervisor for Georgia's Department of Natural Resources, discusses the dangers of boating under the influence.  ROB PAVEY/STAFF
ROB PAVEY/STAFF
Capt. Mark Padgett, regional law enforcement supervisor for Georgia's Department of Natural Resources, discusses the dangers of boating under the influence.

Gov. Nathan Deal said last week that he supports lowering the blood alcohol limit from 0.10 to 0.08 – the standard in place for driving under the influence.

“If you are too drunk to drive an automobile, you are too drunk to drive a boat,” Deal said in his State of the State address.

The proposed change results in part from two fatal accidents at Lake Lanier last year.

Griffin Prince, 13, and his 9-year-old brother, Jake Prince, were killed in June when a center-console boat, whose driver was drunk, collided with their family’s pontoon boat.

Barely a month later, 11-year-old Kile Glover, the stepson of musician Usher, died after being struck by a personal watercraft.

The change, which would require legislative approval, would give authorities more discretion to make BUI cases, said Capt. Mark Padgett, the Region III law enforcement supervisor for Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources.

“It’s not a big change but it’s going to give people pause to think – that they don’t need to be drinking out there,” he said. Georgia is among just eight states with a less strict blood alcohol level for boaters than for drivers, he said.

An added danger of boating under the influence is that boaters often return to a landing at the end of the day, then drive home.

“Physically, if you’re out on the water four or five hours, in the sun and wind, it has definite effects,” Padgett said. “You add alcohol and you have a deadly cocktail.”

Last year, rangers made 180 BUI arrests statewide, with Lake Lanier accounting for 60 of those cases and Lake Allatoona yielding 28. Thurmond Lake had nine BUI arrests.

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OpenCurtain
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OpenCurtain 01/21/13 - 09:50 am
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Another law, another lawyer,and another dollar.

When will we quit using old processes to determine drunk?

We have all seen a BIG person 3 sheets to the wind on 2 beers, and a skinny person of 1/2 the size that had consumed more walking a straight line.

Some people consume alcohol better than others, it a simple fact.

Some people are genetically prone to being easy drunks vs. some that have a hallow leg.

After 40 years isn't it about time we devise a NEW testing process, which better determines and representatives the state of impairment?

OpenCurtain
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OpenCurtain 01/21/13 - 09:51 am
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BTW: they really must want this law

They are using children to make their point.

bubbasauce
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bubbasauce 01/21/13 - 11:08 am
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There again, using a tragedy

There again, using a tragedy to change laws to increase fines. This is why I sold my boat twenty years ago. By the way, I will never own another boat if I can't drink a beer if and when I choose. What a joke this whole country has become!

soapy_725
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soapy_725 01/21/13 - 12:01 pm
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But they won't attack traffic DUI or

Unpublished

increase fines and road checks. It is on the top of the list of freedoms in America. Freedom to get drunk and drive. Freedom to kill innocent babies. Wrong is wrong is every one does wrong. We can only conclude from our research that the majority of American are drunks. Otherwise this lunacy would end. Cause and effect.

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 01/21/13 - 02:29 pm
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I could not agree more guys.

I could not agree more guys. OF COURSE we all want dangerous people off the streets, off the water, and out of the way period if they are capable of harming others with their intoxication, but as OC so succintly points out, BAC is only an indicator. I've seen old veterans walk into the VA ER with BAC's approaching 400, a level that would kill most people. They were most definitely intoxicated and did not need to be operating ANYTHING, but the point remains their tolerance was much, much higher than the average person due to years of consuming alcohol. Myself; I'm a big guy and would drown before getting intoxicated on some of the very low calorie beers. If I'm out, that is what I drink if I want beer, just for that reason. If I drink real beer, I get full after a couple and don't want any more.

I have a buddy who was popped several years ago. Get this: He and friends were sitting on his pontoon boat at the dock late one evening tilting a couple. There was an activity going on at Savannah Lakes, so he backed off the dock about 150 ft to get a clearer audio coming across the water. He had anchor light on and was just floating when the rangers were coming in to the landing to pull out for the night. They decided to do a safety check and saw open containers. They tested him at .11 and hauled him to jail in cuffs. $1500 later....

Was he guilty? Yup. Should they have exercised a little more judgement under the circumstances? I definitely think so. It so happens that my buddy is an alcoholic, and .11 doesn't faze him any more than .06 would for most of the rest of us.

It is all in context, and I agree 100% that the penalties should be very harsh for those who've actually caused an accident or otherwise demonstrated they are too impaired to be operating a watercraft.

What about sailboats, whose speed is 5 or 6 mph on a good day? Who are they going to harm?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/21/13 - 09:00 pm
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Yeah, I wasn't going to say

Yeah, I wasn't going to say anything, but since the above posters are braver than I am and have rightfully pointed out some problems with making boating and alcohol more restrictive, I'll join in. This statement got me:

Mark Padgett, the Region III law enforcement supervisor for Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources, said, “It’s not a big change but it’s going to give people pause to think – that they don’t need to be drinking out there,”

Whether someone wants to drink or not is NOT up to them. It's perfectly legal to have a beer or two while boating. Others on the boat can drink beyond the legal limit.

The incident related about the pontoon boat has me wondering. A boat anchored in the lake or a cove of the river for the night with the prescribed lights and so on has to have an operator who hasn't been drinking? They are not moving, etc. They can't all party on the boat? I mean they could be sleeping on the boat for the night. Some of these boats are pretty big.

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 01/21/13 - 08:47 pm
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Good point RM

The motor was not running, and my buddy was sitting at the helm. I guess they go by the same law as automobiles, if the keys are in it, you are guilty whether the car is on the highway or roadside, moving or not.

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 01/21/13 - 08:53 pm
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Oh, RM.

We are not "brave" for commenting. It is just that we all need to start standing up for common sense and fighting the PC crowd. There are things that need saying in all phases of life, and we should say it without fear of getting labeled by the PC crowd.

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