Suspension; Reinstatement; Penalties (O.C.G.A. § 52-7-12.6)

Legal Commentary. Under Georgia law, the first suspension is for the period of one year. Thirty days after the effective suspension date, the boat operator may apply for reinstatement. To do this, they must show proof that they have completed the DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program. A second suspension is for the period of three years, and the boat operator can apply for reinstatement 120 days after the effective date of suspension. A third suspension is for the duration of no less than five years. If you violate the terms of the suspension, you are violating Georgia law, making you guilty of a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of between $500 and $1,000.

As a Georgia boat accident lawyer, I encourage every boat operator in Georgia to obey the law for the sake of your own health and that of your children. Any monetary fines are nothing compared to the possibility of sustaining a serious head injury or death of a child as a result of a boat accident.

The full text of the law is set forth below:

Suspension; Reinstatement; Penalties (O.C.G.A. § 52-7-12.6)

(a) Any operator's privilege to operate a vessel on the waters of this state required to be suspended under subsection (d) of Code Section 52-7-12.5 shall be suspended subject to the following terms and conditions:
(1) Upon the first suspension pursuant to subsection (d) of Code Section 52-7-12.5 within the previous five years, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which a suspension was obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a suspension is obtained, the period of suspension shall be for one year. Not sooner than 30 days following the effective date of suspension, the person may apply to the department for reinstatement of his or her operator's privilege. Such privilege shall be reinstated if such person submits proof of completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program approved by the Department of Driver Services. An operator's privilege suspended pursuant to Code Section 52-7-12.5 shall remain suspended until such person submits proof of completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program approved by the Department of Driver Services;

(2) Upon the second suspension pursuant to subsection (d) of Code Section 52-7-12.5 within five years, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which suspensions were obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a suspension is obtained, the period of suspension shall be for three years. Not sooner than 120 days following the effective date of suspension, the person may apply to the department for reinstatement of the person's operator's privilege. Such privilege shall be reinstated if such person submits proof of completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program approved by the Department of Driver Services. An operator's privilege suspended pursuant to Code Section 52-7-12.5 shall remain suspended until such person submits proof of completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program approved by the Department of Driver Services; and

(3) Upon the third or subsequent suspension pursuant to subsection (d) of Code Section 52-7-12.5 within five years, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which suspensions were obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a suspension is obtained, the period of suspension shall be for not less than five years and until such person submits proof of completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program approved by the Department of Driver Services.

(b) In all cases in which the department may return the privilege to operate a vessel on the waters of this state to an operator prior to the termination of the full period of suspension, the department may require such tests of operating skill and knowledge as it determines to be proper, and the department's discretion shall be guided by the operator's past operating record and performance.

(c) Any person who operates a vessel or personal watercraft on any of the waters of this state at a time when such person's privilege to do so has been suspended shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500.00 nor more than $1,000.00; provided, however, that for a second and each subsequent conviction within a five-year period measured from the date of the previous arrest upon which a conviction was obtained to the date of the current arrest, such person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $1,000.00 nor more than $1,500.00. The period suspension of the privilege to operate a vessel on the waters of the state of any person convicted under this subsection shall be extended for an additional six months for each such conviction.

HISTORY: Code 1981, § 52-7-12.6, enacted by Ga. L. 1998, p. 672, § 3; Ga. L. 2001, p. 1000, § 2; Ga. L. 2005, p. 334, § 31-1/HB 501.