FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- A new law governing boating safety in Georgia will take effect in mid-May -- shortly before the start of this summer's boating season. Governor Deal signed it into law Tuesday.
The measure flew through the legislature after a litany of fatal boating accidents last summer on Lake Lanier. Many relatives those victims attended the signing ceremony.
The new law will:
- Lower the boating while intoxicated threshold - .10 to .08 - the same as driving an automobile while intoxicated.
- Require boat operators to pass an online test before operating a boat - similar to tests hunters must take in Georgia.
- Require life jackets for boat passengers who are under thirteen years old.
"I'm very optimistic. I'm hopeful someone else can learn from this tragedy," said Tameka Raymond, who lost her son, Kile Glover, during a boating accident last year. Raymond is the ex-wife of the pop singer Usher; the 11-year old Glover was Usher's stepson.
Raymond and others who attended the bill signing say the new law can only do so much.
"I would just want everyone to be mindful - just be a little more mindful," Raymond said.
Governor Deal signed the law despite misgivings by some political conservatives who warned against government overreach.
"And I understand that sentiment," said Deal. "But by the same token, when you're in a public waterway such as Lake Lanier, where the lives of other people are jeopardized by your own actions, then I think it's appropriate that the government set some reasonable standards. I think these are reasonable."