Friday, March 1, 2013
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
ATLANTA -- The state Senate unanimously passed a bill aimed at increasing boating safety after the deaths of three boys on Lake Lanier last year.
With a bill named in honor of Jake and Griffin Prince, the Buford brothers killed in a June boating accident, the proposal would lower the legal limit for boating under the influence to 0.08, which matches the state's driving under the influence law.
With a portion of the statute named in honor of 11-year-old Kile Glover, the stepson of entertainer Usher Raymond, who died last summer after being hit by a personal watercraft while riding on a tube on the lake, the law also requires people who buy a boat to take a free boating safety course and those who rent a boat to participate in a boating safety briefing.
The proposal, which now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration, was developed during fall and winter sessions of the Lake Lanier legislative caucus, led by Buford Sen. Renee Unterman.
"The No. 1 issue that came out of the hearings was boating safety," Unterman said, adding that the north Georgia lake particular has had problems because of a high volume of crowds on holidays and throughout the summer months. "We have unfortunately had several incidents of boating accidents and fatalities."
Provisions would also restrict anyone under 12 from operating a personal watercraft without being accompanied by a parent.
Butch Miller, the Gainesville senator who authored the bill, said it would "effectively change the culture of boating and youth."
He fought back tears as he asked for a unanimous vote, as a symbolic way to honor the families who lost their children.
"The Glover family and the Prince family suffered tragedy last year," he said, adding that the boys names will live on in the legislation.