New Law Aimed at Curbing Boating Accidents in Georgia May 23, 2014A new Georgia law requiring boat education and increasing penalties for intoxicated watercraft operators goes into effect in July. Those planning to spend summer days on the water in Georgia need to know about a new law that goes into effect July 1. Prompted by a heartbreaking 2012 incident, the Kile Glover Boat Education Law is aimed at making sure the state’s boaters make safety a priority when spending time on the state’s lakes, rivers and coastal waterways. Two years ago, 11-year-old Kile Glover was enjoying the day with family and friends on Lake Lanier, just northeast of Atlanta. He and another child were riding on an inner tube being towed by a pontoon boat when a jet ski collided with the inner tube. Young Glover, stepson of famed entertainer Usher, suffered severe head injuries from which he never regained consciousness. The boy was declared brain dead and died two weeks later after being removed from life support. Earlier this year, the driver of that jet ski, Jeffrey Hubbard, was found guilty of serious injury by vessel, reckless operation, unlawful operation of personal watercraft and boat traffic violation, and sentenced to four years in prison. Although state investigators don’t believe that Hubbard was intoxicated at the time of the accident, lawmakers responded to the high-profile case with sweeping legislation aimed at better educating boaters about safety issues, including the potentially devastating risks of drinking while operating a boat, jet ski or other motorized vessel. New law requires boaters born on or after January 1, 1998 to successfully complete a boat education course approved by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources before operating a motorized watercraft. It also lowers the blood-alcohol content limit for boaters from .10 to .08 and increases penalties intoxicated watercraft operators. Florida has a similar law requiring that anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 complete a boater education course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators prior to operating a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more. Boaters also must have a Boating Safety Education ID card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in their possession while operating a vessel. Even if you’re not required by law to take the Florida or Georgia boater education courses, boating accident attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell urge you to take safety courses offered periodically anyway. This will help keep sharp your skills and knowledge of boating safety issues and may even reduce your boating insurance premiums. Meanwhile, if you are injured in a boating or jet skiing accident caused by someone else’s neglect or by a defect associated with a motor vessel, get medical attention immediately. Then, contact Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111. We serve clients throughout South Georgia and North and Central Florida.