BUFORD — The boating deaths of two Gwinnett boys could galvanize lawmakers to lower boating under the influence limits, after Gov. Nathan Deal called for the change Thursday.
Deal praised dive teams who worked for more than a week before finding the body of 13-year-old Griffin Prince Wednesday evening. The teen and his brother, 9-year-old Jake, were killed June 18 when the pontoon their family was enjoying on Lake Lanier was struck by a speed boat.
Paul Bennett, 44, of Cumming, has been charged with boating under the influence.
“I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to all of those who have worked around the clock in response to this tragedy,” Deal, who is from Gainesville, said of Hall County divers and others who aided in the search. “The members of state, local and federal law enforcement, as well as the volunteers, involved in the recovery of Griffin Prince proved their dedication to not only their jobs, but also to the good of mankind. For this I am thankful.”
The governor expressed his sympathy to the Prince family, who asked for privacy following the announcement that Griffin’s body had been found.
“The current blood alcohol limit of .10 for boating and hunting is far too high. As a state, we need to have one level across the board,” Deal said of the current boating limit being higher than the driving under the influence level of .08. “When the General Assembly convenes in January, I will work with the House and Senate to pass legislation that lowers the legal limit to .08 for boating and hunting – in line with the legal limit for driving a vehicle.
“As governor it is my priority to protect Georgians to the best of my ability and enforce the law,” Deal said. “Far too many tragedies have occurred as a result of boating under the influence, and we must take the necessary steps to keep people safe.
In his statement, the governor also asked that boaters use caution during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, which often brings a crowd to Lake Lanier.
“Safety must be a priority at all times. I assure you that state and local officers will work cooperatively to arrest violators of boating laws,” Deal said. “In fact, the Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday signed an agreement with Gwinnett County to work jointly on enforcement. That’s an example of how I want this to work.”