New law for those who drive boats

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News 12 11 o'clock / Saturday, May 24, 2014

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- When Memorial Day weekend kicks off, so does boating season on the lake. This year boaters are facing some new laws, with more to come. News 12 is on your side with what you need to know before your boat hits the water.

Memorial Day for boaters, like Lance Mangrum, can only be described one way.

"It's a bunch of fun. Got a lot of people out. The sun's out. It's pretty nice and warm. A lot of boats out on the water," Mangrum said.

Although, families like Mangrum's aren't the only ones cruising the lakes this weekend, so is DNR.

"I'm glad to see you all have the children in a life jacket. You know it changed," Ranger First Class Bobby Timmerman said, as he made sure everyone on the boat was following the rules

Timmerman takes his job seriously. He doesn't think twice when it comes to stopping someone to make sure they know the rules.

"A lot of the new boating legislation that's gone into effect," he said.

Now, kids 13 and under must wear a life jacket anytime a boat is in motion, unless they're in a cabin. BUI limits are just like DUI's, driver's can't be over .08 and can face jail time and fines if they are; and one law that's in the books, but won't be enforced until July 1st is a driving course.

"Anyone that was born January 1, 1998 has to have a boater safety course in order to operate a vessel now," said the Georgia DNR Ranger.

Georgia DNR has offered the course long before it became a law. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and online companies offer the same class, but DNR charges less than the competition.

"They're free. You can contact your local DNR office and they can tell you when the class is scheduled and if you're able to sign up for one," he said.

So, while some don't want to see DNR give them the pull over gesture, boaters like Mangrum don't mind, because they've got nothing to hide.

"It helps out having them out there because it controls other boaters who are doing things wrong," Mangrum said.

If you want to sign up for the free boating class, call the local DNR at 706-595-4211

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