BUI crackdown in full swing at Lake Lanier



GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Operation Dry Water is underway on Georgia waterways.

Rangers on Lake Lanier said this is a big weekend with the Fourth of July approaching, so they're looking for intoxicated boaters. Channel 2's Liz Artz went to the mobile command center to learn more about the process for suspected drunken boaters, who are taken to the center for a Breathalyzer test.

The process is part of a national effort that has seen local success at Lake Lanier. Officials said boating incidents and the number of BUIs have been cut in half since this time last year with help from the initiative.

Artz spoke with several boaters, who said they are being careful on the waterways.

Jeff Craig said he knows the spots on Lake Lanier to stay away from. He brought his kids and wanted to keep his outing family-friendly.

"I don't go near Cocktail Cove or Sunset Beach," he said "This is a place to bring your family to have a good time."

Department of Natural Resources Sgt. Mike Burgamy said too many other people think a good time is spending the day on the lake drinking and boating.

This weekend a team of rangers set up camp on the south end of the 38,000-acre lake, ready to catch those too drunk to boat.

"We want you to go out and have a good time, but we want you to be smart about it. Boat sober and boat safe," Burgamy said.

On May 15, Georgia law tightened up on boaters. A BUI now mirrors a DUI. At .08 or higher, boat operators are considered intoxicated.

"If we run across an operator that's drinking, we're going to test them," Burgamy said.

Channel 2's Amanda Cook saw boaterEd Stamper being tested for BUI. His results were .07. Although .07 is under the limit, Stamper was not allowed to drive his boat home.

Yoladia Rameriz admitted to drinking a beer and was also given a Breathalyzer test. But she said she didn't mind, adding that too many people are driving drunk.

The crackdown seems to be working, officials said. Last year, rangers made 31 BUI arrests. During that same time period this year, 19 people have been arrested for boating drunk.

"It's a good thing. It's people coming out here doing what they shouldn't be doing what they are doing," Craig said.

So far, authorities said they are pleased with, noting most citations Saturday were issued to boaters for not properly displaying registration or for safety violations. Officials told Cook there have been four deaths so far on Lake Lanier. One of those cases was related to drinking and boating.