Boating is great summer pastime in the sweltering Georgia heat, but knowing the law is crucial. For suspects 21 or over, the Implied Consent Notice follows similar guidelines to those of a DUI. Georgia law requires that you must submit to a state administered chemical test of blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substance to see if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you submit to the test and it indicates an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or more (0.02 for those under 21) or the presence of any illegal drug, your privilege to operate a vessel in the waters of the state may be suspended for a minimum period of one year. Additionally, you have the right to take more chemical tests at your own expense from qualified personnel of your choosing.

​A refusal to submit one of these tests will result in a suspension of your privilege to operate a vessel on the waters of this state for a minimum period of one year. The refusal to submit can be used as evidence in the case. Just like the Georgia Vehicular Homicide Law and Georgia Serious Injury by Vehicle Law, any person who is dead, unconscious, or in any other condition making them incapable of refusing has not withdrawn their consent and the test can still be administered.

​The state of Georgia also has a separate administrative penalty that’s separate from the criminal proceeding for any watercraft operator that refuses to take a state-administered test or submits to a test with a result that show a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more (0.02 for those under 21). The penalty is a 12 month suspension of the person’s privilege to operate a vessel in the waters of the state which is enacted immediately after a BUI arrest. In order to request a hearing, you must submit it within 10 business days after arrest or receipt of notice of suspension to appeal the suspension of the individual’s Georgia boating privileges. This request is known as a “10 day letter” and must include basic information and the grounds for the appeal.

The hearing is limited and only covers certain issues:

  • If the officer had reasonable grounds to believe you were operating or were in physical control of a moving vessel while under the influence of alcohol/controlled substances and were lawfully arrested for BUI
  • If you were involved in a vessel accident of collision resulting in serious injury or fatality
  • If the officer informed the person of his/her implied consent rights when they requested the test
  • If you refused the test
  • If the test results indicated a BAC of 0.08 grams or more (0.02 grams for those under 21)
  • If the test was properly administered

​If you have proof that you’ve completed a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, submit the certificate of completion, and pay a $200 restoration fee, your boating privileges can be reinstated in 120 days. A second administrative suspension within five years leads to a three year suspension with a possible reinstatement in 18 months. Any suspension after the third time will lead to a five year suspension with no possible early reinstatement. The suspension can be lifted if BUI charges are dismissed, a nolle prosequi is entered, charges are reduced, or you’re acquitted. A criminal court victory will overthrow the boating suspension.

​If you have any further questions about BUI law in Georgia or would like to set up a consultation to speak with a BUI expert, please contact our office at 404-997-8470.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Cansino Blanchette Law Firm or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.