The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division is urging staying sober and knowing the laws when operating a boat this holiday weekend. There were 118 boating accidents and 12 boating-related fatalities in 2012 in Georgia, and conservation rangers made 180 boating-under-the-influence arrests.
“Please be sure to review Georgia boating laws before getting out on the water, especially the new changes relative to driving a boat under the influence and life jacket use for children,” said Col. Eddie Henderson, chief of Law Enforcement. “Your attention to safety rules and alertness to other people on the water can save lives.”
DNR offers the following safety rules for boat and personal watercraft (PWC) operators:
• Designate an operator. Do not drink and operate a boat. Georgia law has changed to move the blood alcohol content level to .08 to match Georgia driving law.
• Take a boating safety course. Visit www.goboatgeorgia.com/boating/education for course listings.
• Wear a life jacket. Children under 13 years of age are required by law to wear a life jacket while onboard a moving vessel, but it’s recommended for everyone to wear a life jacket.
• Don’t overload your boat with people or equipment. Check the capacity plate for the maximum weight or the maximum number of people the boat can safely carry.
• Use navigation lights at all times when on the water at night. Check lights before it gets dark.
• Watch your speed. The 100-foot law applies to all size vessels and prohibits operation at speeds greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any vessel, unless overtaking or meeting another vessel in compliance with the rules of the road.
PWC operators also should be aware of these additional safety rules:
• Do not jump the wake of another boat.
• Pay attention to your surroundings and make sure you stay well clear of other vessels.
• Know Georgia’s age requirements for PWC operation.
• Make sure everyone who operates your PWC is aware of boating laws and how to safely operate a PWC. As the owner, you can be held responsible.
For more information, visit www.goboatgeorgia.com/boating/safety. Several new videos have been created on recent and upcoming boating-related changes in Georgia, visit www.goboatgeorgia.com/new-boating-regulations-2013 to view.