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Boating Under the Influence on Lake Lanier

Boating Under the Influence on Lake Lanier

Because we are a local, Hall County law firm in Gainesville we get lots of questions about BUI's on Lake Lanier.

There's no such thing as a boating license, so how can they take away my ability to operate a boat?

While it is true that anyone who is at least 16 years of age can operate a boat in Georgia (you don't need a boating license), the State of Georgia does have the ability to take away your ability/privilege to drive a boat. If you're arrested for BUI and: (1) you refuse to provide a breath or blood sample; or (2) you provide a breath sample that's over the limit -- the State of Georgia can (and will) give you notice that your privilege to operate a boat has been revoked. Their authority to do this is found in OCGA 52-7-12.

The DNR officer gave me a notice saying I'm not allowed to drive a boat anymore, what can I do?

Here's the part where you have to act fast. Under the law, you only have 10 days to appeal this decision. When you're charged with a DUI and the police have seized your license, you have 30 days to appeal. But, for boating the time limit is 10 days. Your appeal must be postmarked within 10 business days of your arrest.

What does the boating privileges suspension notice look like (DNR form 1205)?

Here's an example DNR form 1205

DNR Form 1205 example

Where do I mail my appeal?

It  must be sent certified mail (with return receipt) and postmarked prior to the 10th business day. You mail it to:

State of Georgia

Department of Natural Resources

Administrative Unit

2065 U.S. Highway 278, SE

Social Circle, GA 30025

Do I have to include a filing fee?

When you appeal a DUI suspension, you send in a $150 fee. But, for BUI appeals, there is no filing fee.

Can I drive my boat on Lake Lanier after I (or my lawyer) have sent in the appeal?

No. This is another area where the law is different for BUI than it is for DUI. If you've timely appealed your DUI suspension, you're allowed to keep driving until the hearing. However, for BUI's you lose your ability to operate a boat after the 10th day since your arrest.

Do I lose my driver's license when I get arrested or convicted of BUI?

No. No matter what happens with your BUI case, your driver's license will not be affected.

Do I lose my boating privilege if I'm convicted of a BUI?

No. Here's what is truly strange about BUI law. You can only lose your privilege to operate a boat in Georgia if you're arrested for BUI and: (1) you refuse to provide a breath or blood sample; (2) you provide a breath sample that's over the limit. See OCGA 52-7-12. But, if you're eventually convicted of BUI (by pleading to BUI or being found guilty by a jury), you will not lose your ability to operate a boat. In other words, your privilege to operate a boat can only be lost at the administrative level (upon arrest), but not by the criminal process (upon conviction). 

Can I get sentenced as a First Offender for BUI?

Yes! I have found that many lawyers are not aware of this fact. While the First Offender's Act (OCGA 42-8-60) is not available for DUI convictions, it is available for BUI convictions. This is very, very important because it means you have the ability to keep a BUI off of your record.

What's the first thing I should do if I get a BUI on Lake Lanier?

Call us! We're standing by to hear from you and help you. 770-249-4405


Or, fill out our contact page here

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If you are facing criminal charges, you are in the right place. Give us a call at 770.249.4405, or send us a message.