Over this Memorial Day weekend, we are reminded that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Enforcement Division has asked that boaters become familiar with the boating laws in Georgia to avoid injury and worse. Last year, our state saw 118 boat accidents, 12 fatalities. In addition, there were 180 boating under the influence arrests. As a Georgian and an Atlanta boating injury lawyer, I hope to see a drop in these statistics this season. Some new laws in our state are intended to help lower these statistics.
New Georgia Boating Laws
The DNR is asking citizens to review the laws related to driving a boat under the influence and use of life jackets for kids. The new Boating Under the Influence (BUI) law which went into effect on May 15, 2013, is known as the “Jake and Griffin Prince BUI Law.” It has lowered the blood alcohol concentration for BUI to 0.08, which mirrors Georgia’s DUI law and is codified as amended at Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) section 52-7-12.
The new life jacket requirement which was also effective on May 15, 2013 and is found at Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 52-7-8. It requires that children under 13 years old wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when aboard a moving vessel on Georgia waters. But it is best for all aboard to be wearing a PFD. This way, if something does happen, all will be assisted in staying afloat and safe.
The 100-foot rule which is found at Official Code of Georgia section 52-7-18, prohibits the operation of a vessel “at a speed greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any vessel which is moored, anchored or adrift outside normal traffic channels, or within 100 feet of any wharf, dock, pier, piling, bridge structure or abutment, person in the water, or shoreline of any residence or public use area.” Watercraft operators may not jump the wake of another vessel within 100 feet.
Other precautions include: knowing the weight limitations of your vessel and avoiding taking on more people or other weight on board that might overload your boat and using your navigation lights at night.
When operating a personal water craft, make sure that you avoid “jumping” the wake of another boat. Stay clear of other vessels and know the boating laws, age requirements to operate your PWC.
Lake Lanier Accident
Just this weekend, a young man came forward and told authorities of his involvement in the hit and run accident on Lake Lanier. The DNR advises that he came forward with his father after his dad noticed damage to their boat. The young boater apparently admitted to hitting something, but he did not know what it was.
The crash victims had been on a See Doo jet boat that was reported to have been “heavily damaged in the accident.” The victims were taken to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in stable condition.
Although the Sea-Doo was running with its lights on at night, it was run over by another boat. The teen who came forward was cut and his boat took on water. Although there are no arrests anticipated at this time, there well might be.