Avoiding a BUI- boating under the influence- charge should be a top priority in 2014 as the lake heats up and the waters become crowded with boaters. There are a lot of myths and misinformation floating around regarding BUI charges in Georgia, so read this quick article to get up to speed and have the right information.
Boating under the influence is a misdemeanor crime in Georgia, meaning its punishable by both steep fines and jail time. Additionally, laws passed last year add other probation requirements to BUI charges and lower the legal limit from .10 to .08. Fortunately, not everyone who drinks alcohol and then operates a boat is BUI. Here are the top things to remember while boating this year to avoid a BUI situation:
1. Make sure your boat has all the required safety gear on board and ready to go. Rangers will be conducting safety checks this summer, as always, and it gives them a free pass onto your boat.
2. Have your boat's bow and stern lighting operational and on during required times. Improper lighting is a common reason for boaters being pulled over on the lake, and yes, it can lead to BUI charges.
3. If you are asked to take field sobriety tests, you will likely be told to go on board the ranger's boat. Remember, if this situation arises, you are free to refuse to take any tests they ask of you. Just remember, there is usually a video running of the encounter, so make sure to stay polite and respectful.
4. If you are asked to take field sobriety tests, offer to have another person drive your boat. If there is someone that hasn't consumed any alcohol, point out to the ranger that that person will take over, out of an abundance of caution.
5. If you are arrested for BUI- which can happen even if you refuse field testing- stay calm and respectful. Most rangers I have seen on Lake Lanier are professional and you don't want to come of looking like an a-hole under the circumstances. I have had prosecutors refuse to negotiate on client's cases where a hard time was given to the arresting officer.
6. You will be asked about taking a breath, or possibly blood test, if you are arrested for BUI. Once again, you are given the right to refuse this testing, though it can lead to longer suspension periods from the lake. Remember, if you do take a breath of blood test, it will be the best piece of evidence in your case, for better or for worse.
7. Don't delay in seeking help if you are charged with BUI. Your boating privileges in a BUI case are suspended the day you are arrested- there is no delay or grace period. The quicker you call an attorney, the quicker we can help you get your privileges back and begin defending your case.
If you have other specific questions about BUI charges feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply post them on our facebook wall- we will be happy to give you more information. Save our firm's number: 770 676 1340 in your phone as well. If a situation arises, we can be reached 24/7 to help.