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2017 BUI (Boating Under The Influence) Laws


At Zeliff & Watson, we are proven trial attorneys with a track record of successfully defending BUI or Boating Under the Influence Charges. If you have been stopped and arrested for a BUI this boating season, here are some key points you need to know:

1. A BUI in Georgia carries just as strict of consequences as a DUI. This is one of the most common misconceptions we here when discussing a BUI case with someone. "Well, it's just a BUI, right? It doesn't even affect my license..." True, it does not affect your driver's license, however, that is about the only difference in a BUI and DUI in Georgia. With numerous fatalities involving alcohol occurring on Georgia lakes every summer, law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges have lost all sympathy for those charged with BUI. This isn't your granddad's DUI/BUI case. Punishments for BUI mirror those for DUI, which include jail, probation, heavy fines, community service, alcohol and drug classes and mandatory urine screening for drugs and alcohol. Further, prosecutors are looking at a BUI as an "alcohol related crime" so judges and courts really lump these charges in with DUI cases if you've had a past offense.

2. BUI tests are optional. Law enforcement has gotten really good and comfortable with telling people they must take these tests. Unlike a situation in a car, in most BUI cases, you will be told you must come aboard the officer's boat, be separated from your group, and then and only then you are told they need to do some tests. These tests, including watching your eyes, patting your hands together and counting your fingertips are bogus and designed for law enforcement to subjectively say what you did wrong. No one really "passes" these tests. They are voluntary, so don't do them.

3. If you did BUI tests, you didn't likely pass, and we can fight them in court. Both of our attorneys have had numerous trials winning BUI cases, and we are not afraid to challenge and show these BUI field tests to be wrong, skewed, and just plain silly. In 2016, Attorney Watson defeated BUI tests in both bench (with a judge) and jury trials around Lake Lanier. If you have been charged with a BUI, you must have a team like ZW on your side, rather than a "general practitioner" that takes BUI when their divorce business is slow. Here's a test for when you meet potential attorneys: ask them to name the BUI tests used. If they can't name at least the HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus) test, alphabet, number count, hand pat, and finger dexterity tests, then you've got a dud. Leave that office, or hangup that phone, and call us.

4. A failing breath or blood test does not seal your fate. Again, general practice attorneys simply do not know how to effectively fight scientific evidence in BUI cases. The Intoxilyzer 9000 and a blood draw in Georgia can be scary things to fight, if you don't know the underlying science and methods behind them. At ZW, we fight these tests day in and day out, and we bring that knowledge and experience to your BUI case.

Whether you simply have a question about BUI laws this season, or have been charged with a BUI, we are happy to speak with you 24/7. Peter and Evan can be reached at (770) 676-1340 or by using our confidential contact form. Don't wait until court is around the corner. Give us a call today and lets begin crafting your defense.

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