If you have been arrested in Georgia for a BUI, Our Georgia BUI lawyers are available to speak with you about your Boating Under the Influence case anytime, including after-hours, weekends, and holidays! Call Chestney & Sullivan today at 404.816.8777
With the Coronavirus shutting impacting our lives, many folks have decided to take time away from the craziness. That means more people will be heading to Georgia’s laves and rivers to spend time in the water, or on the water on boats or jet skis. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources “DNR,” and many local sheriff’s departments will be patrolling Georgia’s lakes and rivers as well. The warm weather this spring has brought a near record amount of boaters to Georgia’s lakes. With spring break upon us in many school districts in Georgia, and with many beaches closed along Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, more people will turn to lakes for their vacation. This means that the DNR will be out patrolling to enforce boater safety and BUI laws. If you have been arrested for Boating Under the Influence in Georgia, call our Georgia BUI lawyers today at 404.816.8777.
Last year, nearly 300 BUI arrests were made on Georgia’s waters including Lake Lanier, Allatoona, Oconee, Sinclair, Jackson, and Hartwell. Boating Under the Influence is a criminal offense that can result in fines, imprisonment and loss of boating privileges. The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety initiated its Belts and Buoys program over the Memorial Day holiday weekend last year and we can the same types of enforcement programs this year. Under the Georgia BUI implied consent law, all people boating are deemed to have given consent to have a breath or blood test conducted, at any time, to determine if they are under the influence of alcohol. If you refuse to take a chemical test, the State will try to suspend your boating privileges for 12 months. Recent decisions from the Georgia Supreme Court involving DUI cases may also impact the prosecution of your Boating Under the Influence (BUI) case. The Georgia General Assembly passed a law in 2019 to correct the wording in the implied consent notice, but in its haste to pass legislation before the end of the legislative session in 2019, there are still major flaws in the language of the implied consent notice. Call Chestney & Sullivan today at 404-816.8777 and we will be happy to discuss your case with you as well as the current status of the law for Georgia BUI’s.
Things to remember if your boat is stopped by the Coast Guard, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or Marine Patrol:
- Safety checks are permitted on boats without any probable cause or reasonable suspicion. In short, law enforcement does not need a reason to stop you on a lake or river.
- To avoid safety checks, and pass them when they occur, keep your vessel in compliance with all laws and local ordinances. This includes keeping all lights working and in their proper position, having an adequate number of personal flotation devices (“PFD’s” – life jackets) and keeping a pressurized fire extinguisher on-board. Any children under the age of 13 are required to wear their PFD at all times while the boat is moving. DNR also has been requiring throw pillows within reach of a boat operator.
- Don’t be a target for your vessel to be boarded – make sure your boat is registered (including personal watercraft “PWC”).
- Check your lights as that will also be a reason to stop and board your boat after dark.
- It is not illegal in Georgia to have alcohol in an open container on a boat, or for the person operating the boat to have a drink. It is only illegal if the blood alcohol content of the person operating the boat is .08 percent or higher, or if you are a “less safe” operator of the vessel. So, don’t panic if you have an open beer, this will only make the officer suspicious.
- Be polite and cooperative. Let the officer do his job so he will move on to the next vessel and won’t feel compelled to administer any chemical tests.
- Georgia has a “zero tolerance” blood alcohol level of .02 for people operating a boat under age 21.
- You do not have to perform field sobriety evaluations or submit to a breath test, blood test, or any other chemical test (although your privilege to operate a vessel may be suspended for up to a year if you refuse a chemical test). No suspension of your privilege to operate a vessel will occur if you elect to not submit to field sobriety evaluations.
- Most of the BUI field sobriety evaluations will not pass Georgia court standards for meeting verifiable scientific certainty and it is possible those evaluations may be excluded from trial for not meeting scientific standards.
- Different laws regarding what blood alcohol content is considered over the limit can apply depending on whether the waterway is federal or Georgia.
- Georgia BUI laws apply to motorboats, sailboats, personal watercrafts (including jet skis), water skis and sailboards.
- Here is a video by Georgia DNR on boating safety:
Do you need an attorney if arrested for BUI?
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being arrested for BUI in Georgia, you definitely need an experienced attorney. An attorney with the proper resources and contacts can analyze and attack the accuracy of the state’s breath or blood test. An attorney will also help avoid any unwanted ramifications of a BUI, such as having a negative impact on your ability to operate a boat, or being subject to child endangerment laws if there were minors on the boat. Failing to have an attorney may result in a greater punishment, which is never a good outcome.
If you were arrested for a BUI on lake Allatoona, chances are that the DNR made the arrest, however, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department patrols Allatoona for BUI’s as well and makes a fair number of BUI arrests each year. Sometimes the Georgia State Patrol will get involved in BUI investigations or they may administer the breath test at the DNR boathouse or at the Bartow County Jail or the Cherokee County Jail.
If your Boating Under the Influence investigation occurred on the Bartow County side of Lake Allatoona, most likely the DNR will handle the full investigation, along with administering the state breath test on an Intoxilyzer 9000 at the DNR boathouse. If a BUI arrest happens, then the boater will be taken to the Bartow County Jail for processing. The Bartow County BUI case will then be assigned an arraignment date in Bartow County Probate Court, where Judge Barry Greene will preside over your BUI while it is in probate court. If you demand a jury trial in your case, the BUI is transferred to the Bartow County Superior Court for prosecution and your case will be assigned to one of the four circuit judges. Chestney & Sullivan regularly handles BUI’s in Bartow County and our Bartow County BUI lawyers will be more than happy to discuss your Bartow County BUI case.
If you have been arrested for BUI on the Cherokee County side, your Cherokee County Boating Under the Influence arrest will be most likely handled by DNR or the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department. You would be processed at the Cherokee County Jail and your Cherokee County BUI case will be prosecuted by the Cherokee County Solicitor’s Office in Cherokee County State Court. Your Cherokee County BUI will be assigned to one of the three judges in Cherokee County State Court. Our Cherokee County BUI lawyers are very familiar with with Cherokee County State Court as we regularly have jury trials there. Call Chestney & Sullivan today to discuss your Cherokee County BUI with one of our experienced Cherokee County BUI lawyers.
Lake Lanier mainly encompasses Forsyth County and Hall County, although there are small slivers of the lake that are in Dawson County and Gwinnett County. For practical purposes, we mainly see Lanier BUI’s arrest occur in Forsyth and Hall Counties. agencies that enforce BUI’s on Lanier are the DNR and the Hall County Sheriff’s Department’s Marine Patrol. If you were stopped and arrested for Boating Under the Influence on Lanier in Forsyth County, you will be taken to the DNR boathouse for testing (if you agree to take the breath test), and then taken to the Forsyth County Jail. Your Forsyth BUI will then be prosecuted by the Forsyth County Solicitor’s Office and assigned to one of the two judges in Forsyth County State Court: Chief Judge Russell McClelland or Judge Leslie Abernathy-Maddox. BUI’s in Forsyth County are treated very similar to DUI cases and can have serious penalties. Let our Forsyth County BUI lawyers speak with you to explain how our BUI lawyers effectively defend BUI’s in Forsyth County.
If you have been stopped and arrested for BUI on the Hall County side of Lanier, your will be taken to the boathouse and then to the Hall County Jail for processing. Your Hall County Boating Under the Influence case will be prosecuted by the Hall County Solicitor General’s Office and be assigned to one of the three Hall County State Court judges. Hall County also takes Hall County BUI cases very seriously as there have been some very high profile BUI homicide cases on Lanier. If you are charge with a BUI in Hall County, contact us today where our BUI lawyers can review your Hall County BUI case with you.
Lake Oconee BUI
Lake Oconee is within the boundaries of three counties in Georgia: Morgan, Greene, and Putnam counties. Morgan County constitutes only a small sliver of Lake Oconee and not a lot of BUI’s are made there, but if you were arrested for BUI in the Morgan County portion of Oconee, the BUI arrest was likely made by Georgia DNR. BUI cases in Morgan County typically will start off in Morgan County Probate Court. The vast majority of Lake Oconee BUI’s are made in Greene and Putnam Counties. If you were arrested for BUI in the Greene County side of Oconee, it was likely Georgia DNR that made the arrest. Your case would then be prosecuted in either Greene County Probate Court or Greene County Superior Court. Let our Oconee BUI lawyers discuss with you how we effectively defend BUI’s in Georgia.
If you were arrested for BUI on Lake Oconee on the Putnam County side of the lake, either Georgia DNR or the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department Marine Patrol Division made the Lake Oconee Boating Under the Influence arrest. Your Putnam County BUI case will then be prosecuted in Putnam County State Court. Speak with one of our Putnam County BUI attorneys at Chestney & Sullivan today to go over your case. We are available 24 hours a day.
Lake Sinclair BUI
If you have been arrested for BUI on Lake Sinclair, it is important to know where on Sinclair you were arrested. Our Lake Sinclair BUI lawyers are available to speak with you about your case anytime.
Lake Sinclair encompasses two counties: Baldwin and Putnam counties. The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department and the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department even share a pontoon boat! If you have been arrested for a Baldwin County BUI on Sinclair, your BUI case will be prosecuted by the Baldwin County Solicitor’s Office in Baldwin County State Court and Judge Alan Thrower will preside over your case if the BUI is a misdemeanor. If you were arrested for BUI in Putnam County, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department has its own Marine Patrol Division that routinely patrols for BUI’s during the boating season. The vast majority of BUI’s on Sinclair are made by Georgia DNR and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department. If you have been arrested for BUI in Putnam County, your BUI case will be prosecuted in Putnam County State Court and Judge Michael Gailey will preside over your case. Our Putnam County and Baldwin County BUI lawyers are available to speak to about your case.
If you’ve been arrested for BUI on Georgia’s Lake Lanier, Lake Allatoona, Lake Oconee, Lake Sinclair, the Chattahoochee River or any of Georgia’s popular waterways, call Chestney & Sullivan today to discuss your arrest and options with an experienced attorney. Your initial consultation is free, and all information is kept strictly confidential even if you choose not to hire our firm. We are available 24 hours a day. Contact us at 404-816-8777.