2020 Georgia Code
Title 52 - Waters of the State, Ports, and Watercraft
Chapter 7 - Registration, Operation, and Sale of Watercraft
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 52-7-3. Definitions

Universal Citation: GA Code § 52-7-3 (2020)

As used in this article, the term:

  1. The term "alcohol concentration" means grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

    (1.1) "Blind point" means that portion of any of the waters of this state in which there is a natural or man-made obstruction which prevents the operator of a vessel from seeing vessels approaching from the opposite side of the obstruction, thus creating a safety hazard which could result in a boating accident.

  2. "Board" means the Board of Natural Resources.
  3. "Boat livery" means a business which holds any vessel for renting, leasing, or chartering.
  4. "Commissioner" means the commissioner of natural resources.
  5. "Dealer" means any person engaged in the business of manufacturing vessels or selling new or used vessels at an established place of business.
  6. "Department" means the Department of Natural Resources.
  7. "Discharged" means, and shall include, spilled, leaked, pumped, poured, emitted, or dumped.

    (7.1) "Hazardous area" means any area which the commissioner has designated as such because of conditions which create a threat to the safety and welfare of boaters who may operate in such area.

  8. "Holding tank" means any container which is designed to receive and hold sewage and other wastes discharged from a marine toilet and which is constructed and installed in such a manner that it can only be emptied by pumping out the contents of such holding tank.

    (8.1) "Homemade vessel" means any vessel that is built by an individual for personal use from raw materials that does not require the assignment of a federal hull identification number by a manufacturer pursuant to federal law. A person furnishing raw materials under a contract may be considered the builder of a homemade vessel. Antique boats, boats reconstructed from existing boat hulls, and rebuilt or reconstructed vessels are not considered homemade vessels.

    (8.2) "Hull identification number" or "HIN" means a number assigned to vessels by the manufacturer of the vessel or by the issuing authority of a state as required by the United States Coast Guard in accordance with federal law.

  9. "Idle speed" means a slow speed maintained by the operator of a mechanically propelled vessel reached by engaging the engine of the vessel into said speed by reducing the throttle to a minimum.

    (9.1) "Issuing authority" means, as to this state, the Department of Natural Resources; and, as to other states, the state if it has a numbering system approved by the United States Coast Guard or the United States Coast Guard if the state that does not have an approved numbering system.

  10. "Marine toilet" includes any equipment for installation on board a vessel which is designed to receive, retain, treat, or discharge sewage and any process to treat such sewage. A marine toilet must be equipped with a holding tank which can be emptied only by pumping out.
  11. "Mechanically propelled vessel" means, for the purpose of determining fire extinguisher requirements, those vessels propelled by machinery using a volatile liquid for fuel.
  12. "Nonmotorized vessel" means any vessel other than a sailboat which has no motor attached in a manner to make it readily available for operation.
  13. "No wake" means that the wake or wash created by the movement of the vessel through the water is minimal.
  14. "Operate" means to navigate or otherwise use a vessel which is not at anchor or moored, including vessels which are being paddled, are drifting, or are being powered by machinery.
  15. "Operator" means the person who operates or has charge of the navigation or use of a vessel.
  16. "Owner" means a person, other than a lienholder, having the property in or title to a vessel. The term includes a person entitled to the use or possession of a vessel subject to an interest in another person reserved or created by agreement and securing payment or performance of an obligation but the term excludes a lessee under a lease not intended as security.
  17. "Person" means an individual, partnership, firm, corporation, association, or other legal entity.
  18. "Personal flotation device" means any lifesaving device classified and approved as Type I, Type II, Type III, Type IV, or Type V (Hybrid) by the United States Coast Guard.
  19. "Portable marine toilet" means any device which is movable or portable and is not permanently installed on a vessel and which is designed to receive and temporarily retain sewage.
  20. "Power boat" means any boat, vessel, or water-going craft which is propelled by mechanical rather than manual means whether or not such propulsion device forms an integral part of the structure thereof.
  21. "Protected fresh waters" means the waters of Lake Allatoona, Lake Blackshear, Clarks Hill Lake, Hartwell Lake, Lake Sidney Lanier, Lake Oconee, Lake Seminole, Lake Sinclair, Russell Lake, Walter F. George Reservoir, and West Point Lake.
  22. "Reportable boating accident" means an accident, collision, or other casualty involving a vessel subject to this article which results in loss of life, injury sufficient to cause incapacitation for at least 24 hours, or actual physical damage to property, including vessels, in excess of $2,000.00.

    (22.1) "Sailboard" means any sailboat whose unsupported mast is connected by a swivel or a flexible universal joint to a hull similar to the hull of a surfboard.

  23. "Sewage" means human body wastes and the waste from toilets and other receptacles intended to receive or retain body wastes.
  24. "Undocumented vessel" means a vessel which is not required to have and does not have a valid marine document issued by the United States Coast Guard or federal agency successor thereto.
  25. "Vessel" means every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water or a sailboard, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water and specifically includes, but is not limited to, inflatable rafts and homemade vessels; provided, however, Code Section 52-7-18, relating to rules of the road for boat traffic, shall be applicable to sailboards.
  26. "Waters of this state" means any waters within the territorial limits of this state and the marginal sea adjacent to this state and the high seas when navigated as a part of a journey or ride to or from the shore of this state. This definition shall not include privately owned ponds or lakes not open to the public.

(Ga. L. 1960, p. 235, § 2; Ga. L. 1968, p. 487, § 1; Ga. L. 1973, p. 1427, § 3; Ga. L. 1976, p. 1632, § 1; Ga. L. 1977, p. 1182, § 1; Ga. L. 1978, p. 1743, § 1; Ga. L. 1980, p. 738, § 1; Ga. L. 1987, p. 567, § 1; Ga. L. 1988, p. 410, § 1; Ga. L. 1988, p. 1343, § 2; Ga. L. 1989, p. 230, §§ 1, 2; Ga. L. 1990, p. 1218, § 2; Ga. L. 1992, p. 998, § 1; Ga. L. 1994, p. 680, § 1; Ga. L. 1995, p. 10, § 52; Ga. L. 1995, p. 236, § 1; Ga. L. 2003, p. 481, § 1; Ga. L. 2006, p. 96, § 3/HB 1490; Ga. L. 2020, p. 827, § 2-3/HB 998.)

The 2020 amendment, effective August 5, 2020, added new paragraph (1) and redesignated former paragraph (1) as paragraph (1.1).

Code Commission notes.

- Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, in 1987, "lienholder" was substituted for "lien holder" in the first sentence of paragraph (16).

Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, in 1992, a comma was deleted following "marine toilet" in paragraph (8).


Word "use" is interpreted under O.C.G.A. § 52-7-3 to mean navigate, steer, or drive. Wallace v. Lessard, 248 Ga. 575, 285 S.E.2d 14 (1981).

"Waters of the state."

- Georgia Boat Safety Act, O.C.G.A. § 52-7-1 et seq., applies to Lake Lanier as it lies within the boundaries of this state and is open to the public, notwithstanding that it is owned by the federal government. Buckalew v. State, 249 Ga. App. 134, 547 S.E.2d 355 (2001).


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 12 Am. Jur. 2d, Boats and Boating, §§ 1, 19, 27.


- Validity, construction, and application of statutes prohibiting boating while intoxicated, boating while under the influence, or the like, 47 A.L.R.6th 107.

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