The summer has already seen its share of boating casualties. Last month, brothers Jake and Griffin Prince were killed by drunk boater Paul Bennett on Lake Lanier.
Now Georgia House Speaker David Ralston is pushing lawmakers to lower the blood-alcohol limit from boating under the influence, from .10 percent to .08 percent, CBS News reports. The shift would put the state's BUI limit in line with its current DUI limit.
In the wake of the Prince brothers tragedy, state law enforcement has ramped up its efforts to catch drunk boaters with Operation Dry Water. Last month, law enforcement officers arrested seven people for BUI in one weekend alone.
However, Ralston and other state lawmakers believe that increased patrolling isn't enough to prevent another tragedy. They believe that the current boating under the influence limit should be lowered to the same level as drunk driving.
"It's a tragic gap that shouldn't be there," Ralston said. "We need to close the gap ... It's obviously something we need to fix in our law."
Ralston has said that he plans to push state lawmakers to adopt a .08 percent BAC level for BUI offenses. Under Georgia's Boat Safety Act, it's currently illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol concentration of .10 percent or higher. A BUI conviction is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to a year in prison.
It's not entirely clear why state legislators originally proscribed a BAC limit of .10 percent. At the time the laws were adopted, the dangers of drunk boating may not have been apparent. However, now that larger and faster boats are being used on the state's waterways, it may be time for a change.
- Talk to an Atlanta DUI Attorney (FindLaw)
- Boating tragedies prompt proposed changes to BUI laws (WSBradio.com)
- Boating Under the Influence FAQs (FindLaw)
- What to Do If You Are Stopped for BUI (FindLaw's Atlanta DUI Law Blog)