This Memorial Day weekend will be the first big test for officers charged with enforcing Georgia’s new Boating Under the Influence law.
The BUI law went into effect on May 15 and changed the blood alcohol limit from 0.10 to 0.08 for people behind the wheel of a boat or watercraft.
“We will see an increase in BUI violations, we think,” said Captain Mike England, who handles boating education and legislation for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “The difference between this year and last year is that the more boats that we run across that are 0.08 to 0.10 will probably be arrested this time rather than let go.”
Governor Nathan Deal and lawmakers say the legislation will make the state’s lakes and waterways safer.
England said people who have been drinking on the water can be even more impaired than those on the roads because of additional environmental stressors.
“So consuming alcohol on a boat, you’ll feel the effects more because of the sun, the wind, the waves and anybody that’s ever gone to the lake and just been out swimming, you know, you come home, you’re much [more] tired than just a normal day out in the yard or at home,” explained Capt. England.
The state’s new personal floatation device law also went into effect May 15. Capt. Englad said children under the age of 13 must wear a life vest while on a moving vessel. Before, the law only required that children under 10 wear a flotation device.