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Penalties for Boating Under the Influence

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.

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

What is Boating Under The Influence?

In Georgia, it is not legal for any person to operate any moving vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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

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

Operating a vessel means navigating, steering, or driving, and also includes being in physical control of the watercraft.

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.

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

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 may mean that the person’s license to operate a boat will be suspended 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.

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.

Why Choose Our Firm?

Put a Devoted Attorney On Your Side
  • We understand both the procedure of drug & alcohol tests, and the science behind them

  • Attorney Webb has earned numerous awards for his standard of excellence.

  • Clients receive Attorney Webb's personal cell phone & email address.

  • We have over 25 years of legal experience.

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Hear from Other Clients We've Helped
  • Criminal Defense Client

    He is knowledgeable and very professional.

  • DUI Client

    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

  • Kevin W. / DUI Client

    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

  • DUI Client

    Once I came into contact with Mr. Webb after facing an arrest for driving under the influence, I knew he was the man I could trust to help me when it came to the law. He simplified the legal process and was successfully able to reduce the charge I was pres

  • DUI Client

    As soon as I was charged with a DUI, I reached out to Lee Webb for representation—and my experience could not be more ideal. He immediately initiated an appeal for my administrative license suspension and reached out to the prosecutors for negotiation. Les

  • DUI Client

    The court kept pushing out my case date, but after three years, Lee was able to get it dismissed. I would recommend Lee to anyone facing criminal charges—even if you think it is an open-and-shut case, there are a number of factors that can change the outco

  • Criminal Defense Client

    I immediately researched defense lawyers and scheduled a free consultation with Lee Webb. As soon as I walked into his office, I felt relieved. While the situation was embarrassing, Lee treated me with respect and helped me through the process. He was alwa

  • Criminal Defense Client

    Lee and his team kept me updated throughout the entire process, and were always available if I had any questions. Lee was brutally honest and was true to his word during my proceedings. I am very satisfied with his representation as well as the results of

  • Criminal Defense Client

    I cannot say enough about Lee Webb. From start to finish, he made a miserable experience tolerable. Each employee I worked with – including with the individual who answered the phone on weekends—was top notch and beyond pleasant. The team kept me informed