Georgia Personal Injury Trial Attorneys

Is Drinking and Boating Illegal?

By: Fry | Goehring

Going out on the boat during the weekends is such a fun way to get some sunshine, ride some waves, and hang out with your friends and family out on the water. It’s also customary for some boaters to have a drink or two, especially when fishing out on the lake.

What you may not know, however, is that boating under the influence is illegal in all 50 states. Just like you can’t drink and drive, you can’t drink excessively while you’re boating. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, roughly half of all boating accidents involve alcohol. It’s extremely important for the operator of the boat to be clear-headed and sober so that he or she can safely transport themselves and all of their passengers on the boat.

So, what can happen if you are drinking and boating in Georgia? Let’s take a look at the laws and what can happen to you if you’re caught boating under the influence.


The Georgia Boat Safety Act prohibits boat operators from boating under the influence. This means that you cannot operate a boat, sailboat, PWC, water skis, sailboard, or any similar device while intoxicated. The act was passed because alcohol and drugs can impair your balance, blur your vision, give you poor coordination, impair your judgment, and adversely impact your reaction time. Alcohol is a major reason for boating accidents and fatalities.

Under Georgia state law, it is illegal for anyone under 21 years to operate a boat or PWC if their blood alcohol level is 0.02% or more. It is illegal for anyone 21 or over to operate a boat or PWC if their blood alcohol level is 0.08% or more. It is also unlawful for the owner of a boat or PWC to let anyone else operate the boat when the owner is intoxicated. However, it is not illegal in Georgia to have open containers on the boat, or for the operator of the boat to have a drink. Drinking on a boat only becomes illegal when the blood alcohol content of the person driving is above 0.08%.

The Coast Guard routine safety checks and can do so without any probable cause. If you are caught boating under the influence by the Coast Guard, then the state can suspend your boating privileges, pay hefty fines, and possibly even face prison time.

Have you been involved in an accident where the operator of the boat was under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Georgia? You’re going to need a sharp, astute legal team to help you determine what your rights are and whether you’ll be eligible for compensation for any medical bills or hospitalization. Call the Fry | Goehring today at 404-969-1284 to set up a consultation.