Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources today released a preliminary report documenting 10 less Boating Under the Influence arrests this Memorial Day weekend in comparison to last year. In 2013, Deal signed into law legislation, which received overwhelming bipartisan support, lowering the blood-alcohol content limit for boaters from a .10 to a .08 to mimic the limit set for automobiles and increasing penalties for those caught boating while intoxicated. The law went into effect May 15, 2013, leading to an increase in enforcement and arrests before tapering down this year after public awareness campaigns and higher penalties deterred BUIs.
"For too long, holiday weekends meant for remembrance and for making new memories have taken a tragic turn due to preventable boating incidents," said Deal. "During the 2013 legislative session, I worked to combat Boating Under the Influence because I, along with the majority of the General Assembly, thought if you were too drunk to drive a car, you were too drunk to drive a boat. To honor those victims, I signed legislation lowering the blood-alcohol content limit for boaters and increasing penalties for those arrested. The law has already shown its effectiveness by allowing stricter enforcement, encouraging the use of designated drivers and increasing public awareness of safe boating practices -- the new law is working and saving lives.
"While we remain committed to increasing public safety on Georgia's waterways, it's encouraging to see this downward trend of arrests," said Deal. "Thank you to the dedicated public safety officers for working tirelessly day in and day out to keep our citizens out of harm's way."
Beginning July 1, a DNR approved boater education course is required of all boat operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1998. Anyone renting a boat, regardless of age, is required to provide proof of a boater education course or watch a rental boat education video at the boat livery.