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New Georgia Boating Regulations

With tomorrow being the 4th of July there should be, and rightfully so, a host of people getting out on many of Georgia's wonderful lakes. Boating can be a great way to spend an afternoon with friends, but it's also important to remember to be safe. Just this last May there was a terrible collision involving two boats on Lake Lanier. The collision ultimately left two people requiring hospitalization for their injuries.

In response to the numerous accidents that occur on lakes around Georgia each year, there are a number of new regulations now in effect. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources posted the following regarding the new guidelines that took effect in May:

  • New Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Law, Effective May 15, 2013: Known as the "Jake and Griffin Prince BUI Law," this law lowers the blood alcohol concentration for BUI to 0.08, mirroring Georgia's DUI law. The change is effective May 15, 2013.
  • New Life Jacket Requirement, Effective May 15, 2013: Requires that children under 13 years old wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when aboard a moving vessel on Georgia waters.
  • 100-Foot Law: Prohibits people from operating any vessel at a speed greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any vessel which is moored, anchored or adrift outside normal traffic channels, or within 100 feet of any wharf, dock, pier, piling, bridge structure or abutment, person in the water, or shoreline of any residence or public use area. It is also illegal for watercraft operators to jump the wake of another vessel within 100 feet. This law has been in effect, but is still commonly violated by boat and watercraft operators on Georgia waters.

In addition to these new regulations, there are a number of new regulations set to take effect in January of next year. Amongst these, children younger than 13 will be required to wear life jackets when on a moving boat. Additionally, a boater's education course will be required for both those born after January 1, 1998 as well as anyone that wants to rent and operate a watercraft.

Of course all of these regulations really should just serve to underscore the fact that it's important to be safe when you're out on the water. Have fun, but always be careful!

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Thomas Law Firm
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