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Floating while drinking now legal in Georgia
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Families tube at Chestatee River Adventures in Dahlonega on Saturday. Tubing “under the influence” is now legal in Georgia, thanks to House Bill 172, which went into effect July 1. - photo by Kristen Oliver

It is now legal to “shoot the hooch” with hooch in Georgia.

In North Georgia, tubing down the Chattahoochee River in Helen or Duluth or the Chestatee River in Dahlonega is a common summer pastime, and now adults can do so while under the influence of alcohol.

In May, Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 172, which went into effect July 1. According to the bill’s official summary, it revises the state code regarding “the types of vessels that are applicable to the operation of watercraft while under the influence of alcohol, toxic vapors or drugs,” among other purposes.

According to the bill, boating under the influence applies to “vessels,” or all watercrafts other than sailboard or inflatable rafts used as transportation on water.

It stipulates these inflatable rafts only include those “which render transportation with only the aid of such person’s hands, arms, legs or feet.”

This means the colorful, inflatable tubes often seen dotting North Georgia rivers can be manned under the influence.

Saturday, several families took to Chestatee River Adventures at 2718 Ga. 60 N in Dahlonega.

James Clarke of Cumming brought his wife and two children to tube the Chestatee River, and he said he wasn’t aware of the changes in legislation.

“I mean, I certainly have no problem with that,” he said. “But I see tubing as more of a family activity. So I don’t know how many people really want to get drunk but to sit on a tube on a hot day.”

Samantha Long of Dawsonville and her boyfriend also spent their Saturday afternoon on the Chestatee River.

Long said she knew of a few people who took advantage of the change in legislation on the July Fourth holiday weekend.

“I had heard about that from a friend,” Long said. “I think it’s good, because you can’t really be a danger to other people if you’re drunk on a tube. It’s not like boating, where you could really hurt somebody else. What’s the worst that could happen?”

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