BUI Laws in Georgia and Operation Dry Water

Welcome to the Willis Law Firm blog, where we provide valuable insights and guidance on navigating legal matters related to driving under the influence (DUI). In this post, we’ll delve into a topic that is often overlooked but just as important: boating under the influence (BUI) laws in Georgia. As experienced DUI attorneys, we understand the serious consequences of operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Whether you’re a boater or simply interested in understanding Georgia’s BUI laws, this blog post is designed to provide clarity and insight into this important aspect of boating safety and law enforcement.

Boating is a popular recreational activity in Georgia, with thousands of residents and visitors enjoying the state’s scenic waterways each year. However, just like driving a vehicle on the road, operating a boat while impaired poses significant risks to safety and can lead to serious legal consequences. And Georgia takes BUI seriously, participating in Operation Dry Water, a nationwide effort to curb BUI.


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Defining BUI in Georgia

BUI laws in Georgia are enforced to ensure the safety of boaters and others on the water. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for operating a vessel in Georgia is the same as for driving a motor vehicle on the road — 0.08%.

Key Points Regarding BUI Laws in Georgia

Georgia’s BUI (Boating Under the Influence) laws encompass all types of vessels, such as motorboats, sailboats, jet skis, and even canoes and kayaks. Anyone operating a vessel on Georgia’s waterways must adhere to these laws. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for boaters is 0.08%, while individuals under 21 must maintain a BAC below 0.02%.

Enforcement of BUI laws is carried out by agencies such as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and local marine patrol units. Officers conduct routine safety checks and sobriety tests to identify and prevent BUI violations.

Penalties for BUI convictions in Georgia are comparable to those for DUI convictions. Offenders may face fines, license suspension, mandatory participation in alcohol or drug education programs, community service, and even jail time, especially for repeat offenses or incidents involving serious injury or death.

Georgia’s implied consent laws also apply to boaters, meaning that by operating a vessel, they consent to chemical testing for drugs or alcohol if suspected of BUI. Refusal to undergo testing can result in administrative penalties, including license suspension.

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Enforcement of BUI Laws in Georgia

In Georgia, the enforcement of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) laws is carried out by several law enforcement agencies dedicated to ensuring the safety of boaters and others on the water. The primary authority in this effort is the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR, through its officers known as game wardens or conservation rangers, patrols the state’s waterways, enforcing BUI laws, conducting safety inspections, and responding to boating emergencies.

Additionally, many counties and municipalities in Georgia have their own local marine patrol units. These units are specifically tasked with patrolling local waterways and enforcing boating laws. They work in close collaboration with the DNR to ensure compliance with BUI laws and to promote overall boating safety.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, a volunteer organization, also plays a crucial role in this enforcement. The Auxiliary supports the Coast Guard’s mission by promoting boating safety, conducting safety patrols, and assisting boaters in distress. Members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary often assist in BUI enforcement efforts, contributing to the broader goal of safe and responsible boating in Georgia.

Operation Dry Water

Operation Dry Water is a nationwide campaign coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in partnership with the United States Coast Guard and local law enforcement agencies. The campaign aims to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence and reduce the number of BUI-related accidents and fatalities.

During Operation Dry Water, law enforcement agencies across the country, including those in Georgia, increase patrols and conduct heightened enforcement efforts to detect and deter BUI offenses. Officers may conduct sobriety checkpoints, safety inspections, and boater education initiatives to promote compliance with BUI laws and ensure the safety of boaters and passengers.


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Greg and his team are absolutely incredible. Greg explained everything to me in detail, as this is the first ever time I have been arrested. Regular updates throughout the process which allowed me to get on with everyday life. 200% I would recommend Greg and his team to anyone with a DUI case."

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Mr Willis is the best in the business. He knows the law inside and out. I was in a serious jam and Greg got my dui reduced to a reckless driving. This man will fight for you every step of the way."

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What to Do If Stopped for Suspected BUI

Anxiety and uncertainty comes with being stopped under suspicion of boating under the influence, but knowing how to handle the situation can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Understanding your rights and responsibilities is crucial in protecting yourself and your legal interests.

If Stopped for Suspected BUI …

If you are stopped for a suspected BUI, it is crucial to remain calm and cooperative. Avoid making any sudden movements or showing signs of aggression, as this could escalate the situation.

When the officer requests, provide your identification, vessel registration, and any other legally required documents. Follow the officer’s instructions and avoid making any statements that could be self-incriminating.

In Georgia, you are not legally obligated to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs) if stopped for suspected BUI. You can politely decline these tests, as they are voluntary and intended to gather evidence against you.

If the officer has probable cause to believe you are operating a vessel under the influence, they may request that you submit to chemical testing to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). While you have the right to refuse chemical testing in Georgia, be aware that refusal may result in administrative penalties, including license suspension.

Remember, you have the right to remain silent. Politely inform the officer that you wish to exercise this right and consult with an attorney before making any statements.

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If Charged with BUI 

If you are charged with Boating Under the Influence (BUI), it is essential to contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can provide vital legal guidance, safeguard your rights, and represent your interests throughout the legal proceedings.

First, gather evidence related to your arrest. Document details such as the officer’s behavior, the circumstances of the stop, and any potential defenses you might have. Collect relevant documentation, including witness statements, photographs, or video recordings.

It is crucial to attend all scheduled court appearances and hearings concerning your BUI charges. Missing a court date can result in additional penalties, including a warrant for your arrest.

Your attorney will either negotiate with the prosecution for a plea bargain or contest the charges in court, depending on the specifics of your case. They will advise you on the best course of action based on the facts and your legal goals.

If convicted of BUI, comply with any court-ordered requirements, such as completing alcohol or drug education programs, paying fines, or serving probation.

Being stopped for suspected BUI can be a stressful experience, but understanding how to handle the situation can help protect your rights and legal interests. Stay calm, exercise your rights, and seek legal representation as soon as possible. If charged with BUI, an experienced DUI attorney can guide you through the legal process and work toward achieving the best possible outcome.

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Navigating BUI laws in Georgia requires experienced legal guidance and advocacy. At Willis Law Firm, we understand the seriousness of BUI charges and the potential impact they can have on your future. Our team of DUI attorneys is here to provide the strong legal representation you need to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

If you or someone you know is facing BUI charges in Georgia, don’t face the legal system alone. Contact our firm today for a free consultation to discuss your case and learn more about your legal options. We’ll review the details of your situation, answer your questions, and provide personalized guidance to help you navigate the legal process with confidence.

Your future and freedom are too important to leave to chance. Trust Willis Law Firm to fight tirelessly on your behalf and work towards a favorable resolution to your BUI case. Don’t wait — contact us now and take the first step towards securing your rights and protecting your future.

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