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Proposed bill lowers legal intoxication level for boaters

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ATLANTA -


A new bill at the state Capitol calls for a change in Georgia's "boating under the influence law. The measure would lower the intoxication limit for boaters.

This past summer two brothers died on Lake Lanier when their boat was struck in an accident that allegedly involved boating under the influence. That crash and other serious incidents have led to a newly-introduced bill by state Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville).

"Of all boating accidents, over 50 percent of them each year, they involve alcohol," Miller said.

His measure would lower the intoxication level for boating under the influence from .10 to .08 -- the same level for driving under the influence.
    
"It's just the right time. The momentum is right, the feeling is right. The general public wants to be able to go out and enjoy boating without own endangering their families," Miller said.

The state senator says Georgia is one of only eight states allowing a higher alcohol limit for boaters.

Hall County Solicitor Stephanie Woodard, who handles some of the BUI prosecutions on Lake Lanier, said the difference between the limits is "substantial" for a non-heavy drinker.

"It's made absolutely no sense that they can operate a high-powered vessel on the water at a higher rate of alcohol than they can load their boat up and drive back to their hometown," Woodard said.

The move to tighten boating laws has the backing of Gov. Nathan Deal.

The state Senate bill would hike the  penalties for boating under the influence.

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