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Before going out on a boat, hit the books
New Georgia law takes effect July 1

From staff reports

State boating laws have changed, and citizens who plan on boating should be informed about changes before operating a vessel on public waters.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Lt. Col. Jeff Weaver, assistant director of law enforcement, suggests people take advantage of a boating educational course, which will be a requisite for boaters turning 16 this year, as well as future boaters who are not yet 16.

The course will educate participants on life jacket safety, the “100-foot law,” minimum age limits for boat operators, and penalties and dangers of boating under the influence.

“How important is boater education? So important that beginning July 1st, completion of a boater education course will become mandatory for all vessel operators” born on or after Jan. 1, 1998, Weaver said. “In an effort to provide a mechanism for ensuring that Georgia boaters are knowledgeable, boaters will be required to complete a boating education course. After all, tragedy can happen quickly and making an effort to learn boating laws, rules and regulations can potentially save a life — including your own.”

The new boater education requirement states that any persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1998, who operate any motorized vessel on the waters of the state must have completed a DNR-approved boat education course prior to such operation. A person is exempt if he or she is licensed by the Coast Guard as a master of a vessel; is operating on a private pond or lake; or is a nonresident who has in his or her possession proof that he or she has completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators-approved boater education course or equivalency examination from another state.

There are three simple ways to get involved and take the course, he said: classroom, online or a home study program. For more information, go to

For information on the mandatory boater education requirement, including a new video, visit

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