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BUI Laws in Georgia

In Georgia, it is not legal for any person to operate any moving vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Operating a vessel means navigating, steering, or driving, and also includes being in physical control of the watercraft.

The term “moving vessel” is broad, and includes:

  • Sailboats
  • Motorboats
  • Personal watercrafts
  • Water skis
  • Aquaplanes
  • Surfboards

In Georgia, a person can be charged with a BUI while intoxicated by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two. Drugs whose use may lead to a BUI include illegal drugs, such as marijuana or controlled substances, or but also legal medications that affect a person’s driving ability.

You can discuss the details of your case for free by calling (706) 705-5122.

Types of BUI

Like Georgia DUIs, there are two ways to be convicted of boating under the influence in the state: per se and less safe. A BUI per se occurs when a person’s blood alcohol level is .08 percent or higher, the legal limit, within three hours of operating a moving vessel. If the operator of the boat is under age 21, the legal limit is .02 percent. Charging a person with a BUI per se requires a test of blood alcohol level, whether it be through a breathalyzer test, a blood test, or a urine test.

If a person’s impairment is due to drug, rather than alcohol, use, or if there has been no blood alcohol content testing, the operator of a boat may be charged with a BUI less safe. This means that an officer has determined that the violator is less safe to operate the vehicle because of the use of drugs or alcohol. Both per se and less safe DUIs are treated identically under Georgia law.

Implied Consent & BUI Penalties

A first BUI offense may include up to $1k in fines, up to 12 month license suspension, more than 40 hours of community service, completion of a substance abuse program, and up to 12 months imprisonment/probation depending on the circumstances of the conviction.

These consequences can increase if property was damaged, anyone was injured/killed, or if the individual has multiple convictions on their record.

Additionally, Georgia’s implied consent law means that all people operating a boat have given consent to submit to a breath test or blood test to determine whether they are under the influence of alcohol. The refusal to submit to any test may mean the automatic suspension of your license for 12 months.

Legal Grounds for BUI Investigations

In Georgia, DNR and other law enforcement officers do not need probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop a boat and conduct a safety check, inspecting the boat’s life preservers, fire extinguishers, etc. Most BUI investigations result from these routine stops. But an officer may not raise the level to an investigation for BUI, however, unless there are signs that the operator of the boat might be intoxicated, such as open alcohol containers, slurred speech, or a smell of alcohol.

Most people are familiar with the fact that driving under the influence in Athens is a serious criminal offense and can result in heavy fines, restricted driving privileges, and even jail time. Georgia’s boating under the influence (BUI) laws are similar. If you have been charged with a BUI in Georgia, consult with the experienced Athens BUI defense attorney at the Law Offices of J. Lee Webb.

If you have been charged with a BUI in Georgia, you need quality legal representation to ensure that your rights are defended. Please call (706) 705-5122 to speak with Athens criminal defense lawyer J. Lee Webb.

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  • We understand both the procedure of drug & alcohol tests, and the science behind them

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Hear From Other Clients We've Helped
    "He is knowledgeable and very professional."
    I scheduled a consultation with Mr. Webb and within 5 minutes of the consult and giving my statement to my case I felt comfortable and confident.
    - Criminal Defense Client
    "Very knowledgeable and tough attorney - got my DUI charge totally dismissed."
    Lee did an amazing job on my case. He asked me to walk through all of the details of what had happened and then studied the police reports in great detail. Once we went to court it was clear from the beginning that the judges and prosecutors really respect
    - Kevin W. / DUI Client
    "Was forthright and honest -- did an outstanding job of guiding me through the process"
    This was a first-time DUI (0.08), first-ever offense of any sort. I was referred to Lee by a lawyer friend. Lee and Alisa (his assistant) did an outstanding job of guiding me through the process from first contact all the way through trial (that never occu
    - DUI Client