Deal: Lower legal blood alcohol limit for boating

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.”


CD 3 years, 2 months ago

Deal wouldn't know the bow from the stern, unless one or the other had a briefcase full of cash strapped to it.

Having said that and as a boater, I do not allow alcohol on my boat. You have to be careful on the water, especially at night. You can only make a serious mistake once. There is plenty of fun to be had on the water without alcohol.


SickandTired 3 years, 2 months ago

Amen CD! I have been boating on Lanier for almost 20 years and never have alcohol on my boat. Way too many a-holes on the lake these days with no knowledge of boating rules and regs. We choose to stay off the lake at night and especially holidays.


notblind 3 years, 2 months ago

Please wear your pfd's when underway. You should probably wear one at all times after dark even when anchored out on the lake fishing.


SickandTired 3 years, 2 months ago

notblind.....9 y/o Jake had his PFD on at the time. The problem is drunk boaters!!!!!


NewsReader 3 years, 2 months ago

There ya go. Every time there is a tragedy on the lake, politicians come up with a different ration of crap to deal with the problem. I get that. That's what they think they were voted into office to do. What they need to do is make an example out of the person responsible for this. Make the punishment so severe, nobody would ever want to take the chance of getting caught. And if the statute isn't tough enough, change it. But lowering the limit, IMHO, is just a very stupid fix for a very significant problem. In fact, it will do little if anything to fix the problem. People that do this kind of stuff don't care about anyone else but themself and could care less about the lives affected by their reckless actions. Make it undesirable, and the problem will fix itself.


RosieW 3 years, 2 months ago

How utterly absurd that one can be more intoxicated, legally, while on the water.

I don't know how to research this. Would like to know what lobbying group was responsible for getting this law passed. Your thoughts???


NewsReader 3 years, 2 months ago

Absolutely RosieW! Whatever level he was intoxicated at, it could only be worse by this new measure. Drunk is drunk is drunk. Who cares how drunk?


roblotjr 3 years, 2 months ago

How about just do not drink and drive period. No matter what you are steering. I hope this guy gets life without parole. That way he can sit soberly in his cell remembering the choice he made that tragically scarred so many lives. I pray for these brothers loved ones and the community they lived in.


Don 3 years, 2 months ago

It really does not matter about the lower level there is not enough manpower on the lakes to enforce the law now.

I mean they only nabbed 7 ppl this past weekend for BUI! They just have too litle manpower and to many issues on the lake.

I was shocked to just see DNR sitting out of sunset cove blowing their siren and flashing their blue lights to people who were producing a wake in the o wake zone. What happened to we are not giving warnings policy for last weekends hightened awareness program.

Create a written rules test for all boater with no grandfather clause to get most of the idiots to at least know what they are doing wrong.


HonestIngine 3 years, 2 months ago

This tragedy will not bring these boys back.. Just like the Trayvon Martin case..Deal is another politician, trying to capture the limelight. Lowering the limit does not improve safety on the waters. Next thing you know, open container law will start being enforced, even if the driver is not drinking. Safety begins with the boat owner/operator.


Sign in to comment