Jake Prince, age 9, and Griffin Prince, age 13, were killed when the pontoon boat they were riding in was hit head on by another fishing boat on Lake Lanier. The accident occurred on June 18, 2012 at about 10:30pm. The pontoon boat was driven by the boys’ father, Mike Prince and was carrying 13 passengers. The fishing boat was driven by Paul Bennett. Bennett has been charged with boating under the influence, but could face further charges of homicide by vessel and leaving the scene.
This tragic accident reminds us how important it is to know and adhere to the boating regulations set forth by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
According to the Georgia DNR, people 16 years of age or older may operate any boat in Georgia waters if they have proper identification on board. This is government issued identification that contains a description of the person, a photograph, and birthdate. Children 14 – 15 years of age may operate a boat as long as they have passed boating safety course approved by the DNR and are accompanied by and under the direct supervision of a competent adult.
Reckless operation of a boat may include:
- Waterskiing or dropping water skiers close to swimmers, launching ramps, or other boaters
- Jumping the wake of another boat within 100 feet of that boat or buzzing other boats
- Causing damage from the wake of your boat
- Not maintaining a proper distance while operating a boat or towing a person on water skis or any similar device
- Failure to regulate your speed near swimming areas, docks, and moored boats and boats engaged in fishing
- Operating a boat faster than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions (weather, boat traffic)
- Overloading the boat beyond capacity
Riding on the bow or gunwale is illegal if the boat is not properly equipped with a railing or some other retaining device.
The Georgia Boat Safety Act prohibits anyone from boating under the influence. It also makes it illegal for someone to allow an intoxicated person to operate his or her boat. People under 21 years of age may not operate a boat with a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or more. People over 21 years of age may not operate a boat with a blood alcohol level of 0.10 or more and if drugs are detected.
People arrested for boating under the influence face the risk of losing their boating privileges until they successfully complete a DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction program approved by the Georgia Department of Human Resources. They are also charged with a misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of up to $1,000 and or jail time for up to one year. If the person charged with boating under the influence has a child under the age of 14 in the boat, they will face additional child endangerment charges.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of someone else’s negligence on the water, please contact The Kerr Law Firm at 843-785-3330. You may also email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be honored to assist you with your case.