New mandatory boating education law

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - A new law will make a boating education class mandatory for anyone who wants to operate a water vessel in Georgia, depending on your age and when you were born.

Right now, Georgia residents between the ages of 12 and 16 can operate a motorized water vessel under adult supervision and teens 16 and up can drive a boat alone.

"We're trying to make sure that everybody knows operate a vessel on the waters of the state safely." said Richard Tanner, an officer with the Department of Natural Resources. He said soon, that is going to change.

"Anybody born on or after January 1, 1998 is required to attend Department of Natural Resources certified boating education course before they can operate on the waters of the state of Georgia," said Tanner.

The law changed after 11 year-old Kyle Glover was killed on Lake Lanier back in 2012. Billy Rice and Jay Grant said they spend a good amount of time on Savannah River and they think the new legislation will make Georgia waters safer.

"If kids were to drive that young, I think they'll definitely
need some special classes to make sure everything is safe," said Rice.

"I think they are awesome. Kids have to learn how to drive a car, they have to take a test and a class for that so why not do the same thing for boats," said Grant.

Tanner, hopes that they're right.

"Hopefully it would make things a lot safer. That's the big thing. We just want to make sure that everybody is safe out there, and give them a little bit more knowledge about what to do and how to go about doing it on the water," said Tanner.

The law takes affect on July 1st of this year. Underage persons caught operating a motorized vessel without the education requirements could face misdemeanor charges.

For more information on the new boater education law, click here.

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