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New Georgia Boating Laws

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. - Many of you will be taking to the waterways to celebrate Independence Day.

But before you do, there is a new law that goes into effect today that you should know about.

Governor Nathan Deal signed SB 136 into law in April of last year, and on July 1st, it goes into effect. It says that if you were born on or after January 1, 1998, you must complete a boater education course before operating a boat on public waters in the state of Georgia.

Nikki Spencer, a Ranger First Class within the Department of Natural Resources one of many, who supports the new law.

"I love the idea. I think it's a good thing. I think we'll have a lot more people attend our boater education courses. Education is everything, if people know they're not suppose to do certain things we hope that'll correct the situations that we have out here on the lake and we hope the number of incidents we have every year will go down," she said.

DNR officials say many of those incidents result in people getting hurt, and in rare cases, death. Which is why a mandatory class for young boaters is a no-brainer.

"It's important because it protects you. [Just like you mentioned earlier] you have to take a course before you drive a car on the road, it is required that you do the same out here. There are laws to follow and we'll go over that in the course and different safety techniques while you are out here on the water," said Spencer.

You'll learn things like life jacket safety, the 100-foot law, right of ways, and other important boating rules.

If you are caught driving a boat without proof that you've completed the course, you will face a misdemeanor charge and receive a citation.

There are three ways to complete the course: in a classroom, online, or through a home study program.

The course has to be DNR approved and you can find out more online.

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