Nathan Deal: Enough with the drunk boating and hunting

Divers with Cobb County Police Department during last week’s search for the body of 13-year-old Griffin Prince at Shoal Creek on Lake Lanier in Buford, Ga. The body of the teenager was recovered Wednesday.  Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com

Divers with Cobb County Police Department during last week’s search for the body of 13-year-old Griffin Prince at Shoal Creek on Lake Lanier in Buford, Ga. The body of the teenager was recovered Wednesday. Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com

In a note of thanks to divers, law enforcement personnel and volunteers who worked to recover the body of Griffin Prince from Lake Lanier, Gov. Nathan Deal this morning said he would back a lowering of legal blood alcohol limits for boaters and hunters.

Said Deal:

“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. 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. 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.”

The body of 13-year-old Griffin Prince was found Wednesday evening in the murky waters of Lake Lanier, nine days after the child was killed along with his brother in a boating accident.

State Department of Natural Resources investigators have not yet decided whether to file charges against Paul Bennett, a Cumming salon owner who was piloting the boat that collided with the Prince’s boat. Bennett, 44, has already been charged with boating under the influence and could face homicide charges, according to the DNR.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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44 comments Add your comment

Just a taxpayer

June 28th, 2012
8:30 am

A little reactionary, but welcome. For too long have the folks with money (you know, those that have discretionary income to buy a boat and then party on it), have been allowed to act without impunity towards their neighbors. It takes a tragedy like the one on Lanier to stop this. Governor Deal is doing the right thing.

Road Scholar

June 28th, 2012
8:34 am

Why are the limits different? If you are impaired at.08 in a car, you aren’t in a boat? Besides a boat is harder to control than a car!

double

June 28th, 2012
8:37 am

Have to agree with Gov. on this one.

sheepdawg

June 28th, 2012
8:42 am

we’ve tried for over a decade to get the ga legislators to change this….one committee chair stated it was his god given right to drink a 12 pack of beer while in his boat fishing. the lt. gov blocked it for the past several years in the senate, including last year after it had passed the house. so sad that ignorance rules under the gold dome and all boating law changes have to be written in a victim’s blood

Andy Johnson

June 28th, 2012
8:50 am

For “5″ years I and others have worked tirelessly to get this law changed. It was being pushed to change prior to us, but we just took the baton and run with it. Building knowledge and support in 2008 and moving forward. Then we devised and put when forward with Senate Bill 71 and House Bill 669 in the 2009/2010 session. Both failed! Then this last session, House Bill 315 but yet it too failed. Maybe now that the Governor has taken a large interest this idea that has seemingly bogged down will actually become a reality. It’s due time!

carlosgvv

June 28th, 2012
8:57 am

Money will talk on this one. If enough boaters and hunters and their lobbyists threaten to cut off the campaing funding to Deal and his lackeys, nothing will change.

East Lake Ira

June 28th, 2012
9:07 am

So much for limited government. Thanks Nathan, you two faced SOB.

Old timer

June 28th, 2012
9:07 am

This is a good idea…..

Bob Loblaw

June 28th, 2012
9:08 am

Who you ought to watch out for is the MADD cartel and their hook-ups with local police. I can promise they will try to attach something to this bill to pad MADD’s wallet or make first offenders pay more to both counties and MADD or require an interlock device for a first offender. Good luck getting this bill through clean.

ATL4Life

June 28th, 2012
9:09 am

So…..the whole problem is the difference between .08 and .10; which is one drink of alcohol.

I’m glad to be surrounded by idiots that think every drunk boating accident or hunting mishap will be solved by simply lowering the intoxication level by ONE drink. If some of you people weren’t so haplessly ignorant, you would do be able to comprehend STATISTICS like the fact that most drunks aren’t anywhere close to .08 or .10 and the legal classification of “drunk” has very little to do with the rate of harm one does at .08 or .10.

Steve

June 28th, 2012
9:11 am

It may be correct to make all the intoxication laws the same, why not the .04 for pilots?
Laws don’t regulate law enforcement does. If we had more enforcment on lakes this may have been prevented.

Goober RIP

June 28th, 2012
9:16 am

wear life jackets

[...] Nathan Deal: Enough with the drunk boating and huntingAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)In a note of thanks to divers, law enforcement personnel and volunteers who worked to recover the body of Griffin Prince from Lake Lanier, Gov. Nathan Deal.Deal: Lower legal blood alcohol limit for boatingWRCB-TVLake Lanier rescue crews make discoveryWSB RadioDivers recover the body of 13-year-old Griffin PrinceAccess North GeorgiaWJTV -Patch.com -WXIA-TVall 122 news articles » [...]

serabeau

June 28th, 2012
9:20 am

The real issue is that there are too many boats on our lakes going too fast,captained by person who fail to understand boating right-of-way rules. Being intoxicated only compounds the issue!

clyde

June 28th, 2012
9:32 am

Deal is correct.Enough is enough.Drunks are killing people all across the country and there’s no need of it happening.It’s asinine to let it continue.Politicians are worried about obesity,noisy motorcycles,jake-brakes,etc. and it’s way past time to deal with drunken vehicle operating.

Just Wait

June 28th, 2012
9:37 am

It really doesn’t matter what level BAC is set for boaters or hunters as long as there is no one out there to enforce it. Yep, Governor Deal, it doesn’t cost anything to change the alcohol level. Glad you took this opportunity to grand stand. What is really needed is more DNR Rangers to enforce the law and maybe save lives. But I forgot, public sector workers are the enemy now.

Cliff

June 28th, 2012
9:59 am

In one way, piloting a boat is no different than driving a car. No one has an inalienable right to do either. Although a lot of driver classes are pretty bad, at least there is something to try to ensure a minimum amount of competency before issuing a driver’s license. Boats are different from cars, so I would propose a boater’s license complete with a written test to ensure people know things like basic right of way, etc. I am certainly not anti-boat. I have a small boat on Lake Lanier, and I have the sailing certifications to go with it. I would also say that there are a lot of boaters on the lake who take into account the limited amount of space available and the crowded waterway as they navigate. But, every weekend, there are always some who do not pay attention and, through speed, inattention or ignorance, put others at risk.

Richard Stone

June 28th, 2012
9:59 am

Where were the life preservers on the boat that was struck? Was there enough for everyone? If not-will the operator be cited? That may seem harsh given the circumstance-but….the only way to hammer the point home is to enforce any violation found on either side of this tragedy. I am certain though that given the operator of the boat that was struck was affliliated with a boat dealership that all rrequired safety precautions were in place-right?

Stephanie

June 28th, 2012
11:28 am

Lowering the limit isn’t going to change anyone’s habits.

GaBlue

June 28th, 2012
11:51 am

“Lowering the limit isn’t going to change anyone’s habits.”

Exactly. Because we are surrounded by jerks who think that everything is their “God-given right” in the name of freedom, even if their stupid, selfish, irresponsible behavior destroys the lives and families of others. When that happens, they’re ALMOST sorry, too! “Ooops. What a terrible accident!”

Then they feel sorry for themselves, when their SELFISH, irresponsible pursuits of happiness are interrupted by repair costs, insurance hassles, lawyer fees, license suspensions, and maybe even **gasp** some jail time.

When they talk to their friends, they’re all, “Why did this happen to ME?” with their pathetic victim card. “I didn’t mean to do that! Why does my life have to be interrupted?”

I’m so sick of selfish people asserting their “God-given right” to go barreling around on the planet thinking only of themselves. What a bunch of creeps.

Stephanie

June 28th, 2012
1:59 pm

Very true, GaBlue.

Cathy Borchardt

June 28th, 2012
2:21 pm

Hooray for the Governor’s decision! I hope they throw the book at this guy and use him as an example of what the consequences are for irresponsible behavior!

Mitch

June 28th, 2012
2:26 pm

@Richard Stone – They were in the channel heading back to the dock and the missing child was over 12 years old and not required by law to wear a life jacket. The boys were likely killed on impact, and one of them was wearing a life jacket. Even if the other one was, it wouldn’t have mattered. Your comment is extremely insensitive and typical of someone who doesn’t have his facts straight. The operator of the victims’ boat was doing nothing illegal whatsoever.

My2Cents

June 28th, 2012
2:26 pm

I don’t think the problem is with the boaters who have had 2 or 3 beers and go for a boat ride. These are completely competent and capable people who are just having a good time on the lake. The problem is the same as it is for drunk drivers, its the VERY drunk drivers and boaters that cause all the accidents. People with BAC’s of over .14 (I’m not a doctor, just an opinion). While I am not condoning drinking and driving/boating, I still believe lowering the limit will be completely inneffective. It will only harm the majority of the people, who are NOT the problem.

biscuit

June 28th, 2012
2:32 pm

This is a really bad overreaction. Lowering the BAC isn’t going to make one bit of difference. Why not sensible measures like better safety regulations? Moralizing over drunken behavior at Lanier isn’t going to help anybody.

James DuBose

June 28th, 2012
2:38 pm

This reminds me far too much of the loss of my cousin in SC in 1997 and I hope the same resulting legislation can be achieved here in GA. No family should ever have to go through this ordeal.

http://www.lexington1.net/educationalfoundation/SuccessStories/DamSwim/Boating%20News%20Article.pdf

my3cents

June 28th, 2012
2:41 pm

Totally agree with “my2cents”. The stupid people that operate boats drunk will continue to do so. You can’t legislate stupidity. It could only possibly harm responsible people.

Joel

June 28th, 2012
3:08 pm

This is an old tactic to increase the number of arrests by broadening the definition of the crime. The statistics will indicate that they are “doing something” about the problem but this law wouldn’t have stopped this latest tragedy. Piloting your boat at night, drunk, without lights and at excessive speed is tantamount to firing a gun into a crowd–someone’s likely to die. This wasn’t an accident, it was murder, and should be treated as such.

Bama Mike

June 28th, 2012
3:09 pm

No what will happen is that thanks to this idiot who should be locked up for life, we who excercise due care an caution when boating will ultimately pay the price. It will be in the form of lower BAC limits. Sunshine and half a miller lite will total .06. so Ahoy and pass me another Gatorade. Also expect more police road blocks around roads close to boating docks and marina’s in an effort to satisfy the public outcry and generate additional revenue. In the end it is the actions of a few that cause all of us to suffer. Good luck Paulie with your new career in the Prison Salon.

Vote no Tsplost

June 28th, 2012
3:10 pm

It is simple lower the limits, and prosecute to the hilt, give serious jail time, but I doubt that will work, man got 3 years for shooting a Federal forestry game warden 3 years ago, watched him drown in his own blood, spent hours sobering up and hiding evidence, his buddies got off. So where is the justice. My son is Federal agent, and I can tell you horror stories about drugs guns and alcohol.
They need to burn this boat operator, make a good example, and hire more state agents.

30 yr resident

June 28th, 2012
3:10 pm

several things come to mind…..the wedding party at Tidwell several yrs ago……drunk boater ran over them, BUT they were in the middle of the cove entrance WITH NO LIGHTS…….all sympathy to the Griffin family, BUT, they know the lake and the dangers, 13 people ( mostly kids ) on the lake at 10;30 at night ? AND, the boat on the right has the right of way…..2 experinced boaters not paying attention….a tragedy that could have been easily avoided. God bless the innocent children…..Gov Deal is a fool, we need more rangers, not a grandstanding Gov who cut their ranks by 20% to start with. Or was that Perdue, an even bigger fool ?

[...] Nathan Deal: Enough with the drunk boating and In a note of thanks to divers, law enforcement personnel and volunteers who worked to recover the body of Griffin Prince from Lake Lanier, Gov. Nathan Deal this morning said he would back a lowering of legal blood alcohol limits for boaters and … [...]

Road Scholar

June 28th, 2012
3:27 pm

To the person who asked whether they were wearing life jackets, I have one I want you to test. Just strap it on and I’ll drive my boat into you and see if you live! Duma$$, the guy was drunk and was irresponsible. While he may be the exception (I think not in today’s world) why should there be different definitions of BAC and drunkenness….PUBLIC drunkenness?

Oh and if we kept the law as is, and the family sues and wins I can hear the cry of “activist judge” or “tort reform” already! My condolences and apologies to the family of the two boys for my crassness.

Painfully Obvious

June 28th, 2012
3:45 pm

What was the BAC of the person arrested in this tragedy? Was it lower than .10? Notice that is not reported. A glaring omission since papers love to publish the BAC level. The silence is deafening. Also no one has mentioned who was and who was not wearing life jackets or who did or did not have lights on. The tri-toon was a high-performance boat capable of speeds of over 40mph, based on the pictures posted, why was the driver of that boat not cited too?? Two boats cannot occupy the same space, both are at fault. No one has the “right-of-way”. This smells more and more like exploitation of a very tragic event to either get more DNR funding or expand the arrests…this is about $$$.

Lanier Boater

June 28th, 2012
3:49 pm

I agree with @30 yr resident

It has not been proven who was at fault in this horrific accident. Everyone is assuming that the alleged drunk boater was the one at fault because he was allegedly drunk. He was arrested for a BUI but was that test done at the scene or when he was arrested 2 hours later at the marina? The passenger of his boat called 911, which means they did not leave the scene as originally stated. I find it hard to believe he would not have been taken into custody at the scene had he been considered drunk. My heart goes out to the family of these children. I own a boat and I am on the lake every weekend. There are plenty of inexperienced boaters that do not know the rules of boating. They are just as dangerous, if not more so, than anyone who has had 2-3 beers and is considered ‘drunk’ in the eyes of the law.

CommonSense101

June 28th, 2012
4:13 pm

We’ve all heard the proponent’s claims that 3 beers will make you over the 0.08 BAC statements, but that is simply FALSE. Let us consider one of the most widely used BAC estimate calculators where it figures a male subject, of about 215lbs, drinking 6 lite beers in a period of 1 hour would have an estimated BAC of 0.062. As you can see, to reach even the 0.08 BAC limit one has to seriously overindulge with alcohol to a point to where it’s excessive and intentional.

The impact of this law change:
To further reduce the likelihood of alcohol related accidents with regards to boating and hunting in Georgia.
To bring inline Georgia’s “Under The Influence of Alcohol” laws to each be set at the blood alcohol content of 0.08 thereby reducing confusion among the general population of the state and the state’s law enforcement agencies tasked with enforcing laws.
Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. These impairments increase the likelihood of accidents afloat and while in the act of hunting – with regards to boating the U.S. Coast Guard data shows that in boating deaths involving alcohol use, over half the victims capsized their boats and/or fell overboard.
Alcohol is even more hazardous on the water than on land. The marine environment – motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray – accelerates a drinker’s impairment. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boat operator’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol.
Alcohol can also be more dangerous to boaters because boat operators are often less experienced and less confident on the water than on the highway. Recreational boaters don’t have the benefit of experiencing daily boat operation. In fact, boaters average only 110 hours on the water per year.
Alcohol can be a serious detriment to needed motor skills, mental stability, and reasoning while hunting in the field. An alcohol impaired hunter could negligently believe another human to be a game animal thereby intentionally discharging their weapon under circumstances that would endanger the safety of the other.
Updating these statutes to mirroring the driving laws will promote a safer Georgia for our citizens and visitors, and also simplify public education efforts.

My2Cents

June 28th, 2012
5:06 pm

@ CommonSense101

“Most widely used BAC estimate calculators” Are you kidding me!!!
I would like to know what estimate calculator this is.

If a 215 lb. man drinks 6 lite beers in one hour, at the end of that hour his BAC MIGHT be .062. But wait another 30 minutes for the alcohol to absorb into his system and it will be considerably higher. Wait an hour and I bet his BAC would be well over .10. All with out drinking another drop!

You do not have to “intentionally overindulge” to reach the .08 limit. Drinking 6 beers in 3 hours will get you very close to that level if not over. The fact remains that its not the casual drinker at the lake that you have to worry about.

catlady

June 28th, 2012
5:44 pm

Confiscate the boats and sell them.

Jeffrey

June 28th, 2012
5:44 pm

I am behind you all the way Gov. Deal, 3 bers in one hour is excessive in my opinion

[...] The noted Political Insider blog in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the governor said, “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. [...]

DawgNole

June 28th, 2012
7:01 pm

Mitch
June 28th, 2012
2:26 pm

@Richard Stone – They were in the channel heading back to the dock and the missing child was over 12 years old and not required by law to wear a life jacket. The boys were likely killed on impact, and one of them was wearing a life jacket. Even if the other one was, it wouldn’t have mattered. Your comment is extremely insensitive and typical of someone who doesn’t have his facts straight. The operator of the victims’ boat was doing nothing illegal whatsoever.
_______________________

Wouldn’t have mattered?! You might want to rethink that one.

Had the law required that 13-year-old to be wearing a lifejacket, the suffering of his surviving family members wouldn’t have been extended 9 days while they searched for his body.

Pretty safe to say it would’ve mattered to them.

Kelly

June 28th, 2012
11:38 pm

wow, life jackets are the issue here? Simply insert your family, your cousins, your nephews, your grandsons, your brothers, your own children into the equation… now, justify this man’s actions.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

JR

June 29th, 2012
11:15 am

What really needs to happen is anyone operating a boat on a public lake should have to be trained how to do it. And by that I mean not only how to actually operate the boat, but the “rules of the waterway” as well.

And while we’re at it, maybe we should do the same for people driving cars as well. I know, you have to pass a driver’s test to get a license. But you don’t have to actually have any training. In Georgia, if you can start the car, push the gas pedal, push the brake, turn the steering wheel, and answer a few written questions, you get a license. In Virginia (and many other states), you have to pass Drivers Ed in order to graduate from High School, just like you have to pass Math and English.