Atlanta Boating DUI Attorney

Under Georgia law, boating while under the influence (BUI) is a crime that carries severe fines and penalties. Like driving while under the influence (DUI) charges, a BUI conviction will have a lasting negative impact on the defendant’s life. Georgia law has a specific statute that explicitly prohibits operating or being in physical control of a moving vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The statute also prohibits operating a surfboard, aquaplane, water skis, or any similar moving device while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If you are facing a criminal BUI charge, Carter Pilgrim, Attorneys at Law can help. Our law firm focuses on defending clients faced with Georgia BUI charges. Attorney Phil Pilgrim prosecuted over 4,0000 cases a year when he worked as the Senior Assistant Solicitor-General for the State of Georgia. He also trained Georgia law enforcement officers in the proper detection and enforcement laws. Mr. Pilgrim uses his vast BUI experience to defend clients facing charges assertively.

Georgia’s Boating While Under the Influence Law

In Georgia, boating while under the influence (BUI) and driving while under the influence (DUI) are two separate crimes. The statute prohibits a person from operating a vessel while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or any other intoxicating substance. Operating a motor vehicle includes steering, driving, navigating, operating, or being in actual physical control of any moving vessel. Intoxicating substances include the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Glue
  • Aerosol
  • Marijuana
  • Other toxic vapors
  • Legally prescribed medications
  • Any type of illegal drugs

A person is under the influence of an intoxicating substance when the operation of the vehicle becomes less safe because of the intoxicating substance’s influence. A person who tests positive for a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher within three hours of operating the vessel can also face charges.

What Constitutes a Vessel Under Georgia’s BUI Law?

Prosecutors must prove all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a defendant of a Georgia BUI. The prosecution must show that the defendant was operating or in actual physical control of a moving vessel. A moving vessel is one that is not moored or anchored at the time of the alleged boating while under the influece.

In addition to prohibiting operating a boat while intoxicated, the law also explicitly prohibits operating other recreational items. Georgia law prohibits a person from operating a moving surfboard, a moving aquaplane, water skis, or any similar moving device while intoxicated.

What Is a “BUI Per Se” Under Georgia Law?

A “BUI per se” charge occurs when the suspect has a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher at the time of the arrest. The term “per se” means the thing speaks for itself. In this case, a blood alcohol reading of over .08 percent indicates that the suspect is under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, Georgia law enforcement officials do make mistakes, especially when it comes to conducting blood alcohol tests. The following types of errors are strong defenses against Georgia BUI charges:

  • The law enforcement officer failed to calibrate the breathalyzer machine properly before use
  • The law enforcement officer failed to read the appropriate Georgia Implied Consent Notice
  • The lab technicians who processed the chemical blood alcohol test made an error
  • The officer lacked the necessary probable cause to conduct the breathalyzer test or blood test

Georgia BUI Penalties

A defendant convicted of a BUI may face harsh penalties, depending on the following factors:

  • Whether or not the defendant has a prior Georgia BUI conviction in the past ten years
  • Whether or not the defendant was aged 14 or younger or when the BUI occurred
  • Whether or not the defendant was towing a person age 14 or younger when the BUI occurred

All defendants convicted of a BUI in Georgia must complete Georgia’s “DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program.” Additionally, all BUI offenders must obtain and pay for clinical evaluation for alcohol and drug dependence conducted by an approved provider. If a defendant charged with a BUI had a child age 14 or younger in the vessel, he or she may face an additional criminal charge of child endangerment.

Penalties for a First Offense

A BUI that occurs as a first offense is considered a misdemeanor under Georgia law. Typically, a first-time offender will face the following consequences, if convicted:

  • $300 to $1000 in fines
  • A 24-hour to a 12-month jail sentence
  • Up to 40 hours of mandatory community service

Penalties for a Second Offense

A defendant convicted of a second BUI within ten years faces the following consequences:

  • $600 to $1000 in fines
  • A 72-hour to a 12-month jail sentence
  • At least 30 days of mandatory community service

Penalties for a Third Offense

A defendant convicted of a third BUI within ten years faces the following consequences for a “high and aggravated” misdemeanor:

  • $1000 to $5000 in fines
  • A 15-day to a 12-month jail sentence
  • At least 30 days of mandatory community service

Penalties for a Fourth Offense

When all of the previous third BUI convictions occurred after May 15, 2013, the state will charge the defendant with a felony BUI. A felony BUI comes with the following possible consequences:

  • $1000 to $5000 in fines
  • A prison sentence of between one and three years
  • At least 30 days of mandatory community service

Contact Our Atlanta BUI Defense Attorney

At Carter Pilgrim, Attorneys at Law, we focus on helping clients in the Atlanta metro area fight BUI and DUI charges. Contact our criminal defense law firm today to learn how we can fight for your rights throughout the entire legal process.