Summer after summer thousands of Georgia residents take to the lakes and rivers in boats. And every summer there are numerous boating accidents, often the accidents involve boats or jet-skis in which someone is drinking alcohol, sometimes at night, injuring or killing the people involved. B.U.I can be a hazard on any of Georgia’s lakes, ponds, or waterways.

Tragic Example- July 2012, Lake Lanier, a sport-fishing boat smashed into a pontoon boat at night and caused the death of two brothers.

This incident, along with others has helped persuade the Georgia Legislature to pass legislation earlier this year to lower the blood alcohol limit for boat operations to 0.08 B.A.C., the same limit for drivers on Georgia roads. With the support of Governor Nathan Deal, who is from Gainesville on Lake Lanier, the legislation was signed in law proving Georgia’s determination to reduce B.U.I. on the state’s waterways.

In 2012 the U.S. Coast Guard reported 4515 recreational boating accidents with 651 deaths and 3000 injuries that occurred in America. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta says excessive consumption of alcohol can affect judgment, balance, vision and concentration. About 1/3 of all recreational boating fatalities involve some use of alcohol. B.U.I. is just as dangerous as driving under the influence on the road.

Boaters in Georgia should study the Georgia Boating Safety Rules, take a boating safety course and pay particular attention to other boats when on the water.

Unfortunately, the Georgia Legislature did not update the state rules and require insurance as a requirement to getting a boat license. Maybe this protection for those injured in boating accidents will be addressed by the legislature next year. However, smart boat owners carry liability insurance for their boats to protect themselves, their families and other boaters!