2020 Georgia Code
Title 52 - Waters of the State, Ports, and Watercraft
Chapter 7 - Registration, Operation, and Sale of Watercraft
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 52-7-25. Enforcement of Article

Universal Citation: GA Code § 52-7-25 (2020)
  1. Any person empowered to enforce this article and any rule or regulation adopted pursuant hereto shall have the authority to stop and board any vessel subject to this article or any such regulation for the purpose of inspection or determining compliance with this article and is empowered to issue a summons for appearance in court or before a magistrate for all violations of this article or of the rules and regulations prescribed hereunder. Vessels of law enforcement personnel shall be marked to identify them as designated enforcement vessels.
  2. An officer empowered to enforce this article shall have the power:
    1. To arrest on view for any violation relating to boating and all rules and regulations prescribed by the board under this article;
    2. To execute all warrants and search warrants for violations of the boat laws and regulations;
    3. To serve subpoenas issued for the examination, investigation, and trial of all offenses against the laws and regulations relating to boats;
    4. To board vessels in use, for purposes of examining any documents and safety equipment, and to search without warrant any vessel which is not at its regular mooring or berth when he believes that any law of this state or any rule or regulation of the Board of Natural Resources relating to boating has been violated;

      (4.1) To board vessels in use or floating, whether moored or not, for purposes of examining any marine toilets, holding tanks, and documents related to them, including records of pump-out and certificates of compliance, and to search without warrant any such vessel to determine compliance with the provisions of this article related to marine toilets when the officer believes that any of said provisions of this article relating to marine toilets have been violated;

    5. To detain the vessel and arrest the operator of a suspected stolen vessel;
    6. To enter upon any land or water in the performance of his duty;
    7. To demand and secure proper assistance in case of emergency;
    8. To exercise the powers and duties of peace officers; and
    9. To investigate any boating accident which occurs on the waters of this state.
  3. Every vessel subject to this article if underway and upon being hailed by a designated law enforcement officer shall stop immediately and lay to or shall maneuver in such a way as to permit the officer to come aboard.
  4. Any person employed or elected by this state or a political subdivision thereof, whose duty it is to preserve the peace or to make arrests or to enforce the law, including, but not limited to, members of the sheriffs' departments, state patrolmen, and game wardens, are empowered to enforce this article. The Department of Natural Resources shall be primarily responsible for enforcement of this article and the rules and regulations issued under this chapter.
  5. It shall be unlawful for any person to resist or interfere by force, menace, threat, or in any other manner with any arrest for violation of this article. It shall also be unlawful for any person to refuse to go with any law enforcement officer of this state after an arrest has been made or to interfere with the officer in the performance of his duty.
  6. The department is authorized and empowered to identify by appropriate signs and markers those public waters in which certain activities may be prohibited or restricted.

(Ga. L. 1960, p. 235, § 12; Ga. L. 1973, p. 1427, § 23; Ga. L. 1977, p. 1182, § 12; Ga. L. 1980, p. 738, §§ 14-17; Ga. L. 1988, p. 1343, § 4; Ga. L. 2019, p. 808, § 7/SB 72.)

The 2019 amendment, effective July 1, 2019, substituted "game wardens" for "conservation rangers" near the end of the first sentence of subsection (d).

Cross references.

- Acceptance of cash bonds for violation of boating laws, § 17-6-5 et seq.

Powers and duties of conservation rangers with regard to laws pertaining to boating safety, § 27-1-20.

Authority of agents of Georgia Bureau of Investigation to enforce laws relating to operation of vessels or boats upon waters of state, § 27-1-24.

Law reviews.

- For survey article on criminal law and procedure for the period from June 1, 2002 through May 31, 2003, see 55 Mercer L. Rev. 117 (2003).



- O.C.G.A. § 52-7-25, allowing suspicionless stops of boats to check for required safety equipment and vehicle registration, promotes the state's important interest in maintaining safe conditions for boaters on Georgia's lakes and rivers, and the procedure used is minimally intrusive, so that the statute does not violate U.S. Const., amend. IV. Peruzzi v. State, 275 Ga. 333, 567 S.E.2d 15 (2002).

Authority to make investigatory stops.

- Provisions of O.C.G.A. § 52-7-25 clearly authorize officers to make investigatory stops of watercraft for the sole purpose of verifying that the operator has the proper documentation and safety equipment on board; the officer need not suspect wrongdoing before such a stop is permitted. Jackson v. State, 214 Ga. App. 726, 448 S.E.2d 761 (1994).

Department of Natural Resources officer who observed the defendant's boat operating with its docking lights improperly illuminated, O.C.G.A. § 52-7- 11(b)(2), had the authority to detain the defendant and make a brief safety inspection under O.C.G.A. § 52-7-25(b)(4); the defendant was not in custody during the stop and Miranda warnings were not required. Pedersen v. State, 337 Ga. App. 159, 786 S.E.2d 535 (2016), cert. denied, No. S16C1641, 2016 Ga. LEXIS 828 (Ga. 2016), overruled on other grounds by State v. Turnquest, 305 Ga. 758, 827 S.E.2d 865 (2019).

Cited in Dalton v. State, 216 Ga. App. 411, 454 S.E.2d 554 (1995).


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 12 Am. Jur. 2d, Boats and Boating, §§ 7, 10, 14, 17.


- Laches: waiver or estoppel on part of government respecting obstruction to navigation, 2 A.L.R. 1694.

Criminal liability for injury or death caused by operation of pleasure boat, 8 A.L.R.4th 886.

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