With Governor Rick Snyder’s signature on February 23, 2012, House Bill 5110 sponsored by Representative Richard LaBlanc from Westland, became Public Act 62.  The bill clarifies conditions under which a peace officer may stop and inspect a vessel.

The Michigan Boating Industries Association has long supported these changes as they allow boaters who have a “Safety Check Decal” displayed on their boat, to be free from random stops by marine patrol boats.  “Safety Check Decals” are available to those who voluntarily participate in a U.S. Coast Guard Safety Check.  Lake Associations and marinas can arrange for free inspection days with the Coast Guard or boater can arrange for a free inspection directly with the Coast Guard on their website:  http://www.safetyseal.net/GetVSC/.

“This new law will help law enforcement and boaters,” said MBIA President John Ropp.  “Because of the multi-jurisdictions involved on many of Michigan’s waterways including Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, the Detroit River and St. Clair River, it was not uncommon for the same boat to be stopped several times in one day.  This is not an efficient use of time and energy and is a huge inconvenience to boaters.”

The new law brings the procedures for stopping boats in-line with the reasonable cause procedures by which an automobile may be stopped.  Under the new law, a peace officer may only stop and inspect a vessel which bears a “Safety Decal” upon a reasonable suspicion that the vessel or its operator is in violation of a marine law or is otherwise engaged in criminal activity.

The new law will be effective on November 1, 2012 and is expected to save funding for the boating safety budget.  There are fiscal analysis available on the legislative website http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(vjc04e45p0tm4b45bgeupb45))/mileg.aspx?page=home.

The Michigan Boating Industries Association is a non-profit trade association representing Michigan $3.9 billion marine industry.  MBIA is dedicated to the advancement, promotion and protection of recreational boating in Michigan.  For more information about the MBIA call 734.261.0123 or visit www.mbia.org

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