Law enforcement officials say a greater awareness of risks has led to one of the safest summers on record on Georgia's lakes and rivers. Authorities say boaters have become more aware of and more careful to avoid the inherent risks on the water -- especially the added dangers caused by excessive drinking.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials are stressing the importance of watercraft safety as Labor Day weekend approaches. Agency officials say there have been 68 boating incidents so far this year, including eight boating-related fatalities.
State officials say they're taking a zero tolerance stance on drunk drivers and boaters during the Fourth of July. Officials from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Public Safety will tour the state Monday to remind Georgians that police will be on high alert for drunk drivers and boat operators this week.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has announced it will participate in a national initiative aimed at educating people on the dangers of boating under the influence. Department spokeswoman Melissa Cummings says the initiative is an effort to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities linked to boaters operating watercrafts while under the influence.
The Department of Natural Resources said its officers arrested more people for boating under the influence on Georgia’s waterways this Memorial Day weekend than in 2012. According to Captain Mike England, head of DNR’s law enforcement division, there were 27 BUI arrests over the holiday weekend in 2012 and 42 arrests in 2013.
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.
Members of the Georgia House are expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would lower the legal blood alcohol limit for people behind the wheel of a boat or people hunting. The bill is named for 11-year-old Kile Glover as well as 9-year-old Jake and 13-year-old Griffin Prince. All three were killed in boating accidents on Lake Lanier in 2012. Prosecutors have charged the boater behind the Prince accident with boating under the influence.