Remember to Boat Safely This Holiday Weekend

It’s the last big holiday weekend of the summer season and despite the forecast of rain, many people will be out on Lake Hartwell hoping to get in one more weekend on the water.

Most of those lake visitors will be getting out on boats and personal water craft and many of those revelers will be boating under the influence.

And according to Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Officer Craig Fulghum, there will be extra patrols on the lake this weekend looking for impaired boaters.

The Georgia Boat Safety Act prohibits anyone from boating under the influence.

That includes, operating any boat, sailboat, personal watercraft, water skis, sailboard or similar device while intoxicated.

It is also unlawful for the owner of a boat or personal watercraft to allow anyone else to operate their boat or PWC while that person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

According to Fulghum, the blood alcohol level for boaters is the same as for motorists on the road.

Fulghum says while drinking on a boat is not a crime, driving a boat while drunk is and that’s why he recommends having a designated “skipper” onboard.

Fulghum said it is also illegal for those under the age of 21 years to operate a boat or PWC if their blood alcohol level is 0.02 or more.

And if you get arrested for boating under the influence you could lose your boating privileges until you successfully complete a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program approved by the Department of Driver Services.

You will also be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $1,000 and/or prison time up to one year.

Additionally anyone found operating a boat or PWC under the influence while a child under the age of 14 years is on board, is also guilty of the separate charge of endangering a child.