New Law Effective July 1 2016
New Law effective July 1st could put a stop to multiple safety checks to your vessel.
Gulf Coast – Florida
Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Florida’s vessel inspection law goes into effect starting July 1, 2016. Previously referred to as the “Probable Cause” law, House Bill CS 703 was approved by the Governor March 25, and prohibits local and state law enforcement from “stopping a vessel for the sole purpose of inspecting it for compliance with the safety equipment carriage and use requirements” if it displays a Florida safety inspection decal issued by law enforcement on a previous stop.
In order for this decal to be valid, it must be placed on the forward half of the port side of the vessel above the waterline. If displayed on a registered vessel, it must be within 6 inches of the vessel’s registration decal.
“Only this decal, issued by a law enforcement officer, will be valid to trigger the changes found in 327.70 Florida Statutes,” according to Capt. Klein. For example, safety inspection stickers issued by the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary would not trigger the “reasonable suspicion” requirement.
As the law is currently written, a decal never expires. According to Capt. Klein, the decals have not yet been distributed. “The last I heard is that we should have a shipment of 200,000 sometime this week,” said Klein
The language being used is “reasonable suspicion” rather than “probable cause.” Vessels are stopped for many other reasons other than checking safety gear – for example, marine sanitation compliance and fisheries enforcement to name two.
The law also changes the careless operation section of the statute (327.33(2)): Riding on the bow of a boat will now be legal according to Florida state law unless it rises to a reckless level; however, federal law still prohibits bow-riding and subjects a person to a $500 fine, according to Capt. Klein.
The “reasonable suspicion” requirement also applies only to local and state law enforcement and not to Coast Guard or other federal law enforcement officials.
More laws going into effect can be found at http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/new-laws-beer-growlers-legal-in-florida-starting-this-week/2235451