Lake Martin boaters may be interested that the Alabama Marine Police have answered 2 critical questions on the boat ban:
Which boats are banned? and: How will it be enforced?
Recently, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld a new law that prohibits certain boats from operating on Lake Martin, Lake Harris, and Weiss Lake.
Alabama Marine Police Captain Brooks issued this post on the Lakes Online forum to answer the questions:
“Now that the Supreme Court has made its ruling on the “3 Lakes Law” and with the recent round of posts on this forum regarding that law we thought it might be a good idea to provide an overview and update to our activities regarding this particular statute.
In a nutshell, the law prohibits the following on Lake Martin:
1. Any vessel longer than 30’6”.
2. Any houseboat.
3. Any vessel longer than 26’11” that is capable of exceeding 60 m.p.h.
Category 1 and 2 can be “grandfathered” in providing the owner prove to the Marine Police Division that the particular vessel was in use on Lake Martin prior to July 1, 2006 or offered for sale at an adjacent marina or dealer prior to that same date. The vessel’s owner is required to make application for a lake usage permit that is renewable annually and pay the corresponding fee.
When the law was originally challenged in Montgomery County Circuit Court the Commissioner of our department made the decision that we would not begin enforcement of the law until that particular challenge was decided. Once the law was upheld we began addressing several issues with the law that would make it more prosecutable in court. At the same time we were resolving these issues we had to develop the permitting process called for in the law.
Once we felt like we had the major issues resolved and our permitting process in place, we distributed the “grandfather” applications to all of the marinas on Lake Martin and then began routinely making enforcement contacts of boats affected by this law.
To date, we have issued approximately 24 warnings, which we are required to do by law on the first offense. Of those 24 vessels, 22 were found to be eligible for “grandfathering” by our officers. We issued the first offense warning to the boat operator and gave them an application for Lake Usage Permit.
As of this writing our office in Montgomery has received 14 applications and so far we have issued 6 Lake Usage Permits for Lake Martin.
Over the Labor Day weekend we also ran radar in an enforcement capacity for the first time. The fastest boat we clocked during that weekend was found to be traveling 43 m.p.h.
From our point of view, this particular law is going to have a slower impact than some people might expect. For example, a great many of the “big” boats that you see on the lake are going to meet the “grandfathering” requirements. Boats up to 26’11” in length can still pretty much travel as fast as they want as long as they are not endangering themselves or other boaters. A 26-foot boat traveling 55 m.p.h. looks a lot bigger and faster than it actually is. Some of what gets reported to us with the speed issue is mistaken identification on the part of the complainant.
That being said, though, we did notice a drop-off in the larger “go-fast” type boat and the few that we did stop were either visiting from another state or had just purchased the boat and was not aware of the law.
We look to increase our enforcement in the coming months particularly in regard to the boats that should be grandfathered but don’t display the Lake Usage Permit Decals. We are maintaining a database by registration number of the boats that have been warned and if we see that boat a second time without the permit then a citation will be issued. If you have a boat that you feel meets the grandfathering requirements, you can pick up an application from any marina on the Lake or from our office here at Wind Creek State Park.”
Thanks, Captain Brooks, for the clarification. If any reader has any questions about this law, I encourage them to contact the Marine Police at:
DISTRICT III HEADQUARTERS
126 Marina Road
Alexander City, AL 35010
What do you think? How will this affect boating on Lake Martin? Please leave a comment in the “Leave a Reply” section below. If you can’t see that section, just click on the word Comments and let us hear what you think.