MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Major changes are coming to Georgia's waterways just in time for the summer. A new law kicks off this week which lowers the legal alcohol limit for boaters.
From the rudder to the road, state officials are taking a stand.
"Whether you're on the road or whether you're on the water, drunk driving is an unacceptable behavior," Harris Blackwood, the director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, said.
Boating under the influence is a statewide problem. About 200 boaters are charged with BUI each year. Just last year, 13 people were arrested on those charges at Lake Sinclair.
"We want to make this as safe as possible for everyone who uses our waterways and our roadways," Blackwood said.
That is why Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia General Assembly passed a new law this year which lowered the legal alcohol limit for boaters from 0.10 to 0.08.
"The same deterioration that occurs behind the wheel on the roadway is the same thing that occurs out here," Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of Georgia's Department of Public Safety, said.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources says this new law will help bust boaters who are putting their lives and others in danger.
"Every time that gets lowered, it makes our waterways safer, it gives our officers a lower threshold to prove someone is operating a boat under the influence," Col. Eddie Henderson, chief of DNR Law Enforcement Division, said.
Summer is the busiest season of the year. Hundreds of DNR ranger will be out patrolling the waterways. While boating is meant to be fun, officials say your safety is their top concern.
"We expect them to go out, have a good time but we expect them to be safe and responsible while their out there," Henderson said.
The new law goes into effect Tuesday, May 15. Boating season kicks off Memorial Day weekend. DNR officials expect the number of BUI's to go up this year.