Athens BUI Defense Lawyer
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:
- Personal watercrafts
- Water skis
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.
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.