Georgia's Department of Natural Resources advises 'don't drink and boat'

Posted at 6:30 PM, May 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-25 18:30:00-04

DECATUR COUNTY, Ga. (WTXL) - All the rain is threatening to hamper what's traditionally a busy holiday weekend on rivers and lakes.

Game wardens from Georgia's Department of Natural Resources have an important message for those still planning to head out on the water, don't drink and boat. 

Alcohol and drugs don't mix with boats, but a few boaters get carried away while on the water, becoming a danger to those around them.

"BUI and alcohol is one of the main causes of boat accidents in the state of Georgia," said Ryan Cleveland, Game Warden for Georgia Department of Natural Resources. "Drinking alcohol, or drugs, any type of impairment will result in a higher increase of an accident or death."

Last year, Georgia DNR cited 189 people for boating under the influence. More than a dozen of those cases happened in the Flint River and Lake Seminole region.

Game wardens do their best to catch those boating while impaired, but it's not always easy.

"It's harder to detect than a DUI, so to speak. There's just not many of us out here to look for it and to find it," said Cleveland. "It's definitely, it's something common that goes on."

People are often found to be boating under the influence typically after they've been stopped for a minor infraction.

These infractions include young children who aren't wearing a life jacket, or boat lights that have not been turned on.

"During that stop, we do our boat and safety inspection. You know, life jackets, fire extinguishers, registration. It develops into a suspicion where we think a BUI might be taking place," said Cleveland. "From there, we do a little more investigating to develop probable cause."

Those boating Friday morning all had one thing in common, they just wanted to enjoy some time on the water.

"I think you need to be, really have your wits about you and then again, pay attention for other people who maybe don't," said Dana Brooks, Leon County resident who jet skis on the Flint River. "A lot of people out here are partying, having a great time, and they get distracted."

The Department of Natural Resources wants people to enjoy their holiday weekend on the water, but in a safe way.

If convicted, a person caught boating under the influence could face fines, have boating privileges suspended, or even go to jail.