Florida bill could restrict boat inspections

A Florida state lawmaker introduced legislation that would require officials to have probable cause before searching boats.

A Florida state lawmaker introduced legislation that would require officials to have probable cause before searching boats.

Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, said he is tired of having his boat boarded by state and federal authorities who are searching for violations.

If the proposed law, House Bill 703, passes, it would take effect July 1 and apply to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers, county deputies and municipal police officers.

The proposal would revise state law relating to reckless or careless operation of a vessel; delete provisions authorizing law enforcement boat inspections; and revise the authority of law enforcement officers to conduct certain investigations.

"Me and my friends get pulled over all the time, and it's never because we're doing something wrong," Workman told Florida Today.

Workman said he does not want to keep law enforcement officers from doing their job, but he wants stops on state waters to be more reasonable. He said he will work with the FWC as the legislation is developed.

A safe-boating sticker next to the boat's registration could help signal that a boat has been inspected, he said.

"You've stolen time from my family and nobody has asked you, in my opinion, to be the safety police," Workman said of such scenarios. "I don't need anybody else nannying my children. I got it."

Since 2013, FWC warnings for boating violations have doubled in Brevard County, increasing to 2,464 in 2015 as citations dropped by almost a third, to 340. FWC officers wrote 488 citations and 1,101 warnings in 2013.

Under state law FWC officers can conduct boating safety inspections and marine fisheries inspections "when it is apparent that the boat occupants have engaged in highly regulated activities, such as fishing or hunting,” said Rob Klepper, a spokesman for the FWC's law enforcement division.

"FWC does not comment on proposed legislation," he said.


Everglades Expands Executive Team

The Edgewater, Fla.-based manufacturer adds positions in finance, sales and marketing and operations.

Heed Caution While Refueling

Ethanol can be back in a big way, and insufficent labeling at the pumps could lead to problems for your marine powerplant. And the MRAA’s voices support for the 30 by 30 initaitive.

Training the Next Generation

Crest Pontoons will donate a complete boat and trailer to a local high school’s raffle to raise money for its vocational programs.

An “Above Average” Hurricane Season

BoatUS wants to help boaters get ready for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1.

Webasto Produces 8,000th Marine Roof

The German company designs and builds a number of glass roof solutions for boats.

A Strong Q2 for Johnson Outdoors

With jumps in nearly all its business segments, the recreation manufacturer saw net sales increase by 26 percent.

Thrust Issues

Is it time for the industry to standardize trolling motor ratings?