Last year, two brothers in Georgia tragically lost their lives when their boat was hit by another piloted by a suspected drunk boater. That tragedy has led to new state legislation, where Georgia boaters can be arrested for boating under the influence of alcohol (BUI) if their blood alcohol content is over .08. It was previously .10.
Other changes include a new law that requires people born in 1998 or after to take a boater education course before they can operate a water vessel. Children under 13 will also have to wear a life vest when in moving boats, though you would hope responsible parents would be already doing so.
So, what are the comparable laws here in the Northwest? As you’ll see, they are generally already where the new Georgia laws bring that state:
- Oregon boating law already dictates that a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher is considered boating under the influence. Washington state law has the same restriction.
- The life jacket law in Oregon mandates all children 12 and under must wear a flotation device in a moving boat. In Washington, it’s also required for children 12 and under on a vessel under 19 feet long.
- Since 2009, all recreational boaters in Oregon must take an approved boater education course or equivalency exam to operate boat with 10 horsepower or greater. When passed, an application is given that must be submitted to get a boater card. The same holds true in Washington, except for boats that are 15 horsepower or greater.
The Georgia boating legislation was passed as a reaction to a tragedy. Don’t wait for tragedy to strike before following your state’s boating laws or recommended safety precautions.