Changes in Alabama laws impact regulations for boaters from outside the state

Two new safety laws are set to bring changes to boating for non-Alabama residents later this year.

Boats on Lake Martin and Weiss Lake must now maintain an idle speed when traveling within a hundred feet from the shoreline, according to a new law. Additionally, wake surfing is regulated to be at least 200 feet from the shore at these lakes.

The Nonresident Alabama Boater Safety Certification is a new law that mandates nonresidents to possess a license or certification from their home state in order to operate a vessel in Alabama. This law replaces the existing provision that allowed a 45-day window for out-of-state individuals to operate a vessel in Alabama.

According to law enforcement, nonresident operators were involved in 25% of the accidents reported in the last fiscal year.

Chief Matt Brooks of the Marine Patrol Division expressed his hope that this measure would guarantee that those individuals are protected by our laws and adhere to safe operating practices.

Lawmakers emphasized the significance of legislative action in ensuring the safety of waterways.

State Representative Ginny Shaver (R-Leesburg) believes in fairness when it comes to boating safety regulations. Just as Alabama residents are required to have a vessel license before operating, Shaver argues that out-of-state operators should also be held to the same standard.

State Senator Jay Hovey (R-Auburn) expressed his belief that the two pieces of legislation being celebrated would greatly contribute to the safety of our waterways.

According to Hal Taylor from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, staying safe remains the top priority, despite the implementation of these new laws.

Taylor emphasized the importance of treating waterways with the same level of care and attention as roadways. According to him, even though there are no lines, stop signs, or red lights on the water, it is crucial to maintain awareness and exercise caution while navigating.

Tyler Urrutia, a seasoned wakeboarder from Georgia, has participated in numerous competitions and is well-known in the wakeboarding community in Alabama. According to Urrutia, having ample space is crucial when navigating the water.

“I believe that the primary benefit of this initiative lies in enhancing safety rather than minimizing property damage,” Urrutia expressed. “Ultimately, it all boils down to ensuring the well-being of individuals and providing them with necessary information to keep them secure while on the go.”

According to Chief Brooks, boating accidents in the last fiscal year resulted in 17 fatalities and caused property damage worth $1.5 million. He emphasized that wearing a life jacket could have prevented many of these incidents.

On October 1, the two laws, recently signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, will come into effect.

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MBS Staff
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