Learn Georgia’s boating regulations: http://goboatgeorgia.com/boating/regulations
As local residents gear up for the Fourth of July, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is preparing for intoxicated boaters.
DNR’s Wildlife Resources division has announced that it will participate in Operation Dry Water this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Operation Dry Water is an initiative by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in conjunction with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to increase visibility and enforcement of boating under the influence of drugs and alcohol the weekend before the Fourth of July, a holiday known for drinking and boating.
The program started in 2009 and officers from all 56 U.S. states, trusts and territories are expected to participate this year. In 2012, officers removed 337 BUI operators from the water and issued 14,514 boating safety citations and warnings during the 72-hour period.
“We will step up patrols and have a mobile intoxication unit on Lake Lanier to combat BUIs,” said Sgt. Mike Burgamy of DNR Law Enforcement.
“We are also working with the Army Corps of Engineers to pass out boating safety handbooks to boaters that are admitted to corps parks. Our goal is to reach as much of the boating public as possible.”
So far this year, there have been 71 arrests made by conservation rangers on Georgia waters, and there was a total of 180 in 2012, according to a press release from the DNR.
“Boating is often a recreational activity and drinking alcoholic beverages is also recreational,” Burgamy said. “We don’t want to tell people that they cannot have that beverage but that they need to do it in a way that is safe.
“Hopefully with the new legislation that passed and the accidents that happened on the lake last year, people will take notice.”
New BUI laws that took effect in May lowered the legal blood alcohol limit for someone operating a water vessel from .10 to .08, the same standard used for automobiles.
The laws came largely in response to an accident on Lake Lanier last year that took the lives of two young boys, Jake and Griffin Prince.
The two boys were killed after a fishing boat crashed into the boat their family was riding in June 2012. The driver of the fishing boat was charged with homicide by vessel and boating under the influence. His trial date is set for Nov. 4.