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Tragedy on Our Lakes — Georgia Boating Under the Influence Too Lenient

512957_better_for_ducks.jpgOver the past several weeks in the Atlanta area, we have been stunned and saddened by the loss of life, including two young lives at Lake Lanier. Earlier this week, two Gwinnett County boys who were tragically killed in a boating collision in June, were laid to rest. Our community was riveted to the news about the search efforts to locate them after the crash that ended their lives. As a Gwinnett County wrongful death and personal injury lawyer, I have struggled, like the rest of our community, to make sense of such tragedy.

We can never say enough about the dangers of boating under the influence. The brothers were killed and another person on the boat also died, when the pontoon boat they were on with their family collided with a fishing boat that was driven by a man who had been drinking and boating on the Lake.

If this were not enough to bring so much grief to our community, we have another accident on Lake Lanier last week. Two youngsters were injured while on an inner tube when a personal watercraft ran over them. Sadly, the watercraft driver was part of the group that was with the kids being pulled by a pontoon when the accident occurred.

The youngsters on the inner tube were flown to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston and the younger of the two was in critical condition and is on life support. He is the stepson of the R&B singer Usher and his estranged wife, Tameka Foster. In this most recent accident, alcohol is not believed to be a factor, but the event is under investigation.

But these accidents, particularly the loss of life caused by drinking and boating cause us to wonder about the recent report that “Georgia boaters can drink more alcohol with less fear of being arrested than boaters in many other states.” Many states set the blood-alcohol content of a boat operator at the same level for motor vehicle drivers. That level is less than .08 — but under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 52-7-12, the legal alcohol limit for boat drivers is .10.

It is difficult to imagine why this is the case and I advocate closing the disparity. Georgians, including our Department of Natural Resources, have sought a change in our boating alcohol level through corrective legislation. Although the House passed a recent bill, it did not make it through committee in the Senate. I urge our legislature to take this issue up again, particularly in light of recent tragedies and send a more stringent message to all that boating under the influence is not acceptable in our state.

As is the case with victims of car and truck accidents, boating accident victims have the right in Georgia to sue when they are hurt by someone else’s careless or illegal actions. The Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle represents accident victims in Metro Atlanta and throughout Georgia who were seriously injured or even killed in boating accidents. If you or a loved one suffered a serious boating accident injury through someone else’s carelessness and you’d like to learn more about your rights, contact us for a free confidential consultation. We have offices throughout the Atlanta metro region for your convenience.