Boating Under the Influence Crackdown: What You Need To Know About BUI

According to 11 Alive, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources made 31 arrests for Boating Under the Influence over Memorial Day weekend. That’s more than double the number from last year. One of those arrests resulted from a crash that killed five people on the Wilmington River.

Many people do not realize that Boating Under the Influence is considered as serious as Driving Under the Influence under Georgia law. That wasn’t always the case, but in 2013 the Georgia legislature updated the state’s boating laws. Importantly for the purposes of this article (and my law practice), they lowered the blood alcohol concentration threshold from 0.10 to 0.08. 

Read more about blood alcohol concentration and how it’s calculated in my blog post, Asking for a Friend: How Much Is Too Much?

The legislature also made the penalties for a BUI more severe.

In this article, you’ll get a brief overview of what you should know about Boating Under the Influence. I’ll include links to my articles where you can learn more. 

What does the Georgia Boating Under the Influence law cover?

Under Georgia law, a person may not “operate, navigate, steer, or drive” any moving vessel, or be in actual control of any vessel, while:

  • Under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for that person to be operating such a vessel,
  • Under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for that person to be operating such a vessel,
  • Under the influence of any glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to the extent that it is less safe for that person to be operating such a vessel,
  • Under the influence of any combination of intoxicating substances to the extent that it is less safe for that person to be operating such a vessel,
  • That person’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams or more at any time within three hours after operating a moving vessel from alcohol consumed before or during the operation of the vessel,
  • While “there is any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance present in the person’s blood or urine…without regard to whether or not any alcohol is present in the person’s breath or blood.”

Read my blog post on Less Safe vs. Per Se DUI here. (Technically, the article is about DUI, but the Less Safe vs. Per Se rules are the same). 

Consequences of a Georgia Boating Under the Influence Conviction

Just like the laws for DUI, the punishment for a BUI will depend on whether you have prior convictions for the same offense. 

A first or second BUI in ten years is a misdemeanor. The third in ten years is a high and aggravated misdemeanor. You are looking at a jail term of up to 12 months for misdemeanors and high and aggravated misdemeanors. 

The fourth or subsequent BUI is a felony, which means that you are looking at least 12 months in prison.

All BUI sentences will involve community service, a Risk Reduction course, and a clinical evaluation. 

For more information, see my more detailed article about Georgia Boating Under the Influence here.

Other rules to know

Of course, to be a safe boater, it’s essential to be familiar with all boating rules, not just the BUI law. If it’s been a while since you’ve read them, refresh your memory at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ page on Boating Rules and Regulations.

If you have been charged with BUI, give me a call today.

I have extensive experience handling both BUI and DUI cases. I also understand that everyone who is charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty, and I fight to help them prove their innocence. Questions that I didn’t cover in this blog post? Get in touch today.

Boating Under the Influence Frequently Asked Questions


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