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
Every year, more people are heading to Georgia’s lakes and rivers to spend time on the water in boats or on jet skis. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources “DNR,” and many local sheriff’s departments are actively patrolling Georgia’s lakes and rivers as well. This summer is no exception as people will once again flock to Georgia’s lakes. Last summer brought a near-record amount of boaters to Georgia’s lakes, and we expect the same this year. As a matter of fact, statistics from NASBLA show a stark increase in BUI arrests in 2022 from 2021. In light of this drastic increase of boaters under the influence, DNR and local sheriff’s departments are expected to patrol the lakes and other waterways in larger numbers – and will continue to do so until early fall. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division (DNR) is a participating agency with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). NASBLA participating agencies, including Georgia DNR, are again participating in Operation Dry Water for this year’s July 4th holiday weekend running from July 1 through July 4. NASBLA reported that a BUI suspect in Georgia was the “winner” of the highest blood alcohol concentration in 2020. There were 183 Boating Under the Influence (BUI) citations issued in 2018 (the last reporting year to NASBLA). We expect DNR and local sheriff’s departments to conduct safety checks for life jackets, fire extinguishers, throw pillows, etc. on boats over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. That means they are looking for boat operators who might be under the influence as well. This Memorial Day weekend, DNR and participating law enforcement agencies are conducting safety checks to make sure there are enough life jackets for everyone on board a vessel, including making sure kids are wearing life jackets or vests.
Here are social media posts from LE Division – GA DNR where they will be looking for impaired boaters during the Operation Dry Water campaign currently being enforced through Memorial Day:
Game Warden Ryan Locke has administered at least one field sobriety test today. DNR LE has a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for boating under the influence. If you’re above a .08 BAC while operating, you will go to jail. This is your only warning. For all obeying the law, we thank you. pic.twitter.com/EtzutiuqbD
— LE Division – GA DNR (@GaDNRLE) May 23, 2020
If you have been arrested for Boating Under the Influence anywhere in Georgia, call our Georgia BUI lawyers at Chestney & Sullivan today at 404.816.8777.
Last year, nearly 300 BUI arrests were made on Georgia’s waters including Lake Lanier, Allatoona, Oconee, Sinclair, Lake Burton, Jackson, Hartwell, and West Point. 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 BUIs.
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 (“PFDs” – life jackets), and keeping a pressurized fire extinguisher onboard. 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 the 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 watercraft (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 may also help avoid any unwanted ramifications of a Boating Under the Influence charge, 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 could result in a greater punishment if convicted of Boating Under the Influence, 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 Boating Under the Influence investigations or they may administer the breath test at the DNR boathouse or at the Bartow County Jail or the Cherokee County Jail.
Bartow County BUI
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, located in the Bartow County Courthouse, where Judge Barry Greene will preside over your BUI while it is in probate court. Sometimes hearings in probate court are conducted in the annex just down the street from the main courthouse. If you demand a jury trial in your case, the Boating Under the Influence case 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 BUIs in Bartow County and our Bartow County BUI lawyers will be more than happy to discuss your Bartow County BUI case.
Cherokee County BUI
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 will be processed at the Cherokee County Jail and your Cherokee County Boating Under the Influence case will be prosecuted by the Cherokee County Solicitor’s Office in Cherokee County State Court, located in the Cherokee Justice Center. Your Cherokee County BUI will be assigned to one of the three judges in the Cherokee County State Court. Our Cherokee County BUI lawyers are very familiar 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.
Cobb County BUI
A portion of Lake Allatoona is located in Cobb County – essentially the portion of Allatoona south of Interstate 75. Your Cobb County Boating under the Influence case will be sent to Cobb County State Court for prosecution. There are twelve state court judges in Cobb County State Court. Our Cobb County BUI lawyers are very familiar with this court as we handle both DUIs and BUIs in Cobb State Court. Our BUI attorneys will be happy to discuss your Cobb BUI and walk you through how we defend BUI charges as well as the court process. Call Chesteny & Sullivan at 404.816.8777.
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 Boating Under the Influence cases on Lanier are the DNR and the Hall County Sheriff’s Department’s Marine Patrol. A very small portion of Lake Lanier is located in Gwinnett County, but for practical purposes, a BUI on Lanier that falls within the border of Gwinnett County is rare. If you fall in one of those rare circumstances, our attorneys defend Gwinnett BUIs in Gwinnett County State Court.
Forsyth County BUI
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 in the Forsyth County Courthouse 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. Boating Under the Influence charges in Forsyth County are treated similarly to DUI cases and can have serious criminal penalties. Let our Forsyth County BUI lawyers speak with you to explain how our BUI lawyers effectively defend BUIs in Forsyth County.
Hall County BUI
If you have been stopped and arrested for BUI on the Hall County side of Lanier, you 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 at the Hall County Courthouse. The sheriff’s department, DNR, and the solicitor’s office take Hall County BUI cases very seriously as there have been some very high profile Boating Under the Influence homicide cases on Lake Lanier. If you are charged with a BUI in Hall County, contact us today where our Hall County BUI lawyers can review your Hall County Boating Under the Influence 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 BUIs 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, located in the historic Morgan County Courthouse. If a jury trial is needed in a Morgan County Boating Under the Influence case, our Morgan County BUI lawyers will transfer the case to Morgan County Superior Court (part of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit), as Morgan County Probate Court has no authority to conduct jury trials. However, as a practical matter, the vast majority of Lake Oconee BUIs are made in Greene and Putnam Counties.
Greene County BUI (Boating Under the Influence)
Call our Green County BUI Lawyers today. If you were arrested for BUI on 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, located in the Greene County Courthouse in Greensboro, GA. If your Lake Oconee BUI is in Green County Superior Court, the District Attorney’s Office of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit (Stephen Bradley’s office) will be the prosecutor in your case. Assistant District Attorney T. Wright Barksdale is the District Attorney as Steven Bradley ran unopposed for retired Judge William Prior, Jr.’s seat and Mr. Barksdale won the primary election. Let our Oconee BUI lawyers discuss with you how we effectively defend BUIs in Georgia.
Putnam County BUI
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 three counties: Baldwin, Putnam, and Hancock 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 Boating Under the Influence charge 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 BUIs 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 were arrested for Boating Under the Influence in the Hancock County portion of Lake Sinclair, your case will begin in Hancock County Probate Court located in Sparta, Georgia in front of Probate Court Judge Sabrina Lamar.
West Point Lake BUI
West Point Lake is primarily within two counties in Georgia: Troup County and Heard County. There is a portion of West Point Lake in Alabama as well. The majority of West Point is within Troup County. If you have been arrested for Boating Under the Influence on West Point Lake within Troup County, you will be taken to the Troup County Jail and your Troup County BUI case will be prosecuted in Troup County State Court, located in the Troup County Courthouse. The state court judge in Troup County State Court that will likely preside over your Troup County Boating Under the Influence case is Judge Jeannette Little. The Solicitor General (elected prosecutor) is Sandra Taylor.
If your Boating Under the Influence arrest occurred on the Heard County side of West Point Lake, then your West Point BUI will begin either in Heard County Probate Court or Heard County Superior Court.
Lake Jackson BUI
Lake Jackson is interesting in that three counties have their borders run through the middle of the lake, making it difficult to prove “venue,” meaning what county did the offense occur in, and that is an element of an offense that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Whether your Lake Jackson Boating Under the Influence case is in Newton, Butts, or Jasper County, call our Lake Jackson BUI lawyers to discuss your Lake Jackson BUI.
Lake Burton BUI
Lake Burton is entirely located in Rabun County, Georgia. If you have been charged with a BUI on Lake Burton, your Rabun County Boating Under the Influence charge will be prosecuted in Rabun County Probate Court or Rabun County Superior Court. The Rabun County Clerk of Court is located in the city of Clayton at 25 Courthouse Square #105, Clayton, GA 30525. Call our Lake Burton, Rabun County BUI lawyers today to discuss your Lake Burton Boating Under the Influence charges.
If you’ve been arrested for BUI on Georgia’s Lake Lanier, Lake Allatoona, Lake Burton, Lake Oconee, Lake Sinclair, West Point Lake, 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.