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Boating Laws to Remember BY JOEL WILLIAMS

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Summer weather in our community always means lake season is here! Stay safe and informed on the water this season by keeping these important laws in mind.

Boating Laws in Georgia

Irresponsible boat and jet ski operators can find themselves facing significant criminal and civil liability. For example, a jet ski operator who causes the death of another person by traveling more than idle speed within 100 feet of an anchored vessel shall be imprisoned for no less than 3 years. O.C.G.A § 52-7-12.2(a). Georgia considers boaters who are under the influence of alcohol, toxic vapors or drugs to be a direct and immediate threat to the welfare and safety of the general public. It is illegal to operate any moving vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. O.C.G.A. § 52-7-12. If your alcohol concentration is 0.08 or more grams within three hours of being in control of a moving vessel from alcohol consumed before operating the vessel, you are presumed to have committed a crime. All boats and jet skis must be operated at speeds that are reasonable and prudent under the conditions and hazards existing at the time of operation, and vessels never should be occupied by more people than the manufacturer’s recommended capacity. O.C.G.A. § 52-7-17.

State Laws for Jet Ski Operations

No person under the age of 16 may operate a jet ski in Georgia; however, a person 12-15 years of age may operate a jet ski if accompanied by an adult, or if they have successfully completed an approved boating education course. All persons operating a jet ski must wear a U.S. Coast Guardapproved personal flotation device. No person shall operate a jet ski after sunset or before sunrise. No person shall operate a jet ski faster than idle speed within 100 feet of any other anchored vessel, vessel adrift, dock, pier, bridge, person, public park, public beach, public swimming area, marina, etc.

What to do After a Boating Accident

If you have been in a boating accident, you have a duty to provide all practicable and necessary assistance to others to save them from, or minimize, any danger caused by the collision. You also must give your name, address and vessel identification in writing to any person injured. O.C.G.A. § 52-7-14(a). You should notify immediately your insurance company in order to preserve coverage if a lawsuit is brought against you. If you do not notify your liability insurance carrier, the company may deny coverage, based on your failure to promptly notify it of the incident.

Joel Williams is the managing partner of Joel Williams Law, LLC, a Kennesaw based personal injury law firm. gatrialattorney.com



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