CHAPTER 154

AN ACT TO CREATE AN ACT ENTITLED "A BOAT REGISTRATION AND SAFETY ACT" PROVIDING FOR THE REGISTRATION OF MOTOR BOATS; CLASSIFICATION AND REQUIRED EQUIPMENT; EXEMPTIONS; BOAT LIVERIES; COLLISIONS, ACCIDENTS AND CASUALTIES; TRANSMITTAL OF INFORMATION; SKIS AND AQUAPLANES; REGATTAS, RACES, MARINE'S PARADES, TOURNAMENTS OR EXHIBITIONS; LOCAL REGULATIONS; OWNER'S CIVIL LIABILITY; ENFORCEMENT AND PENALTIES.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. Declaration of policy

It is the policy of this State to promote safety for persons and property in and connected with the use, operation and equipment of vessels and to promote uniformity of laws relating thereto.

Section 2. Definitions As used in this act--

"Vessel" means every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.

"Motorboat" means any vessel propelled by machinery, whether or not such machinery is the principal source of propulsion, but shall not include a vessel which has a valid marine document issued by the Bureau of Customs of the United States Government or any federal agency successor thereto.

"Owner" means a person, other than a lien holder, having the property in or title to a motorboat. The term includes a person entitled to the use or possession of a motorboat subject to an interest in another person, reserved or created by agreement and securing payment or performance of an obligation, but the term excludes a lessee under a lease not intended as security.

"Waters of this State" means any waters within the territorial limits of this State, and the marginal sea adjacent to this State and the high seas when navigated as a part of a journey or ride to or from the shore of this State.

"Person" means an individual, partnership, firm, corporation, association, or other entity.

"Operate" means to navigate or otherwise use a motorboat or a vessel.

"Dealer" means any person engaged in the business of buying or selling, building and servicing boats and motors.

Section 3. The Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries shall have overall supervision, direction and coordination of the provisions of this act.

Section 4. The Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries is hereby authorized to make rules and regulations modifying the equipment requirements contained in this section to the extent necessary to keep these requirements in conformity with the provisions of the Federal Navigation Laws or with the navigation rules promulgated by the United States Coast Guard.

Section 5. The Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries is hereby authorized to establish and maintain for the operation of vessels on the waters of this state pilot rules in conformity with the pilot rules contained in the Federal Navigation Laws or the navigation rules promulgated by the United States Coast Guard.

Section 6. Operation of unnumbered motorboats prohibited

Every motorboat on the waters of this State shall be numbered. No person shall operate or give permission for the operation of any motorboat on such waters unless the motorboat is numbered in accordance with this act, or in accordance with applicable federal law, or in accordance with a federally-approved numbering system of another state, and unless (1) the certificate of number awarded to such motorboat is in full force and effect, and (2) the identifying number set forth in the certificate of number is displayed on each side of the bow of such motorboat.

Section 7. Identification number

(a) Commencing April 1, 1960, the owner of each motorboat requiring numbering by this State shall file annually an application for number with the Motor Vehicle Department on forms approved by it. The application shall be signed by the owner of the motorboat and shall be accompanied by a fee of $2. Upon receipt of the application in approved form, the Motor Vehicle Department shall enter the same upon the records of its office and issue to the applicant a certificate of number stating the number awarded to the motorboat and the name and address of the owner. The owner shall paint on or attach to each side of the bow of the motorboat the identification number, its numerals to be at least three inches high and of contrasting color to the hull, in order that it may be clearly visible. The number shall be maintained in legible condition. The certificate of number shall be pocket size and shall be available at all times for inspection on the motorboat for which issued, whenever such motorboat is in operation. Class A boats owned and operated by the State of Delaware shall be registered and display identification numbers but pay no registration fees.

(b) Should the ownership of a motorboat change, a new application form with fee shall be filed with the Motor Vehicle Department and a new certificate of number shall be awarded in the same manner as provided for in an original award of number.

(c) In the event that an agency of the United States Government shall have in force an over-all system of identification numbering for motorboats within the United States, the numbering system employed pursuant to this act by the Motor Vehicle Department shall be in conformity therewith.

(d) All records of the Motor Vehicle Department made or kept pursuant to this section shall be available to people with just cause.

(e) Every certificate of number awarded pursuant to this act shall continue in full force and effect for a period of one year unless sooner terminated or discontinued in accordance with the provisions of this act.

(f) The Motor Vehicle Department shall fix a day and month of the year on which certificates of number due to expire during the calendar year shall lapse and no longer be of any force and effect unless renewed pursuant to this act.

(g) The owner shall furnish the Motor Vehicle Department notice of the transfer of all or any part of his interest other than the creation of a security interest in a motorboat numbered in this State pursuant to subsections (a) and (b) of this section or of the destruction or abandonment of such motorboat, within fifteen days thereof. Such transfer, destruction, or abandonment shall terminate the certificate of number for such motorboat except, that in the case of a transfer of a part interest which does not affect the owner's right to operate such motorboat, such transfer shall not terminate the certificate of number.

(h) Any holder of a certificate of number shall notify the Motor Vehicle Department within fifteen days, if his address no longer conforms to the address appearing on the certificate and shall, as a part of such notification, furnish the Motor Vehicle Department with his new address. The Motor Vehicle Department may provide in its rules and regulations for the surrender of the certificate bearing the former address and its replacement with a certificate bearing the new address or for the alteration of an outstanding certificate to show the new address of the holder.

() No number other than the number awarded to a motorboat or granted reciprocity pursuant to this act shall be painted, attached, or otherwise displayed on either side of the bow of such motorboat.

(j) Dealers and livery owners shall have at their disposal blocks of numbers and shall pay the same fee.

(k) Auxiliary boats (dinghies) carried on and/or used as auxiliaries to Coast Guard registered boats must carry the Coast Guard number of the mother boat on the bows preceded by the letters DL, at no additional fee.

Section 8. Classification and required equipment

(a) Motorboats subject to the provisions of this act shall be divided into four classes as follows:

Class A. Less than sixteenth feet in length.

Class 1. Sixteen feet or over and less than twenty-six feet in length.

Class 2. Twenty-six feet or over and less than forty feet in length.

Class 3. Forty feet or over.

(b) Every motorboat in all weathers from sunset to sunrise shall carry and exhibit lights as prescribed by current Coast Guard regulations.

(c) Every motorboat of class 1, 2, or 3 shall be provided with an efficient whistle or other sound-producing mechanical appliance.

(d) Every motorboat of class 2 or 3 shall be provided with an efficient bell.

(e) Every motorboat shall carry at least one life preserver, or life belt, or ring buoy, or other device of the sort prescribed by the regulations of the Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries for each person on board, so placed as to be readily accessible: Provided, That every motorboat carrying passengers for hire shall carry so placed as to be readily accessible at least one life preserver of the sort prescribed by the regulations of the Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries for each person on board.

(f) Every motorboat shall be provided with such number, size, and type of fire extinguishers, capable of promptly and effectually extinguishing burning gasoline, as may be prescribed by the regulations of the U. S. Coast Guard, which fire extinguishers shall be at all times kept in condition for immediate and effective use and shall be so placed as to be readily accessible.

(g) The provisions of subsections (c), (d) and (f) of this section shall not apply to motorboats while competing in any race conducted pursuant to section 13 of this act or, if such boats be designed and intended solely for racing, while engaged in such navigation as is incidental to the tuning up of the boats and engines for the race.

(h) Every motorboat shall have the carburetor or carburetors of every engine therein (except outboard motors) using gasoline as fuel, equipped with such efficient flame arrestor, backfire trap, or other similar device as may be prescribed by the regulations of the U. S. Coast Guard.

(i) Every such motorboat and every such vessel, except open boats, using as fuel any liquid of a volatile nature, shall be provided with such means as may be prescribed by the regulations of the U. S. Coast Guard for properly and efficiently ventilating the bilges of the engine and fuel tank compartments so as to remove any explosive or inflammable gases.

(j) Every Class A boat shall be required to carry: (1) a proper anchor and sufficient line; (2) a hand or mouth whistle.

(k) No person shall operate or give permission for the operation, of a vessel which is not equipped as required by this section or modification thereof.

(1) No person shall operate or give permission for the operation of a vessel which is deemed unseaworthy by the Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries or its agents.

(m) Inspection certificates shall be issued prior to the issuance of a number as set forth in this act by any motor vehicle inspection lane of this State; any members of the Delaware State Police who have been designated for that purpose by the Superintendent of the State Police; any employees of the Game and Fish Commission who have been designated for that purpose by the said Commission and any employees of the Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries who have been designated for that purpose by the said Commission providing nevertheless that such persons designated as herein provided to make inspections shall have their names certified to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.

Section 9. Exemption from numbering provisions of this act

A motorboat shall not be required to be numbered under this act if it is:

(1) Already covered by a number in full force and effect which has been awarded to it pursuant to federal law.

(2) A motorboat with a federally-approved numbering system of another state: Provided, That such boat shall not have been within this State for a period in excess of ninety consecutive days.

(3) A motorboat from a country other than the United States temporarily using the waters of this State.

(4) A ship's lifeboat.

(5) A motorboat whose owner is the United States, a state, or a subdivision thereof.

Section 10. The Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries shall appoint a Boat Safety Director whose duties shall be to supervise the provisions of this act and to perform such other duties as shall be designated by the Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries. The Boat Safety Director shall be a resident of the State of Delaware and shall be fully qualified and experienced with the rules and regulations of the Federal Government concerning small boats; safety inspection of small boats; construction and operation of small boats; and such other qualifications as may be deemed necessary for him to carry out the provisions of this act.

Section 11. Boat liveries

(a) The owner of a boat livery shall cause to be kept a record of the name and address of the person or persons hiring any vessel which is designed or permitted by him to be operated as a motorboat; the identification number thereof; and the departure date and time, and the expected time of return. The record shall be preserved for at least one year.

(b) Neither the owner of a boat livery, nor his agent or employee shall permit any motorboat or any vessel designed or permitted by him to be operated as a motorboat to depart from his premises unless it shall have been provided, either by owner or renter, with the equipment required pursuant to section 5 of this act and any rules and regulations made pursuant thereto.

(c) Neither the owner of a boat livery, nor his agent or employee shall permit any motorboat or any vessel designed or permitted by him to be' operated as a motorboat to depart from his premises, if, in his opinion:

(1) The leasee is physically incapable of safely operating the boat.

(2) The weather is prohibitive to safe operation. Section 12. Collisions, accidents and casualties

(a) It shall be the duty of the operator of a vessel involved in a collision, accident, or other casualty, so far as he can do *so without serious danger to his own vessel, crew, and passengers (if any), to render to all persons affected by the collision, accident or other casualty such assistance as may be practicable and as may be necessary in order to save them from or minimize any danger caused by the collision, accident, or other casualty, and also to give his name, address, and identification of his vessel in writing to any person injured and to the owner of any property damaged in the collision, accident, or other casualty.

() In the case of collision, accident, or other casualty involving a vessel, the operator thereof, if the collision, accident, or other casualty results in death or injury to a person or damage to property in excess of one hundred dollars shall file with the Motor Vehicle Department a full description of the collision, accident, or other casualty, including such information as said agency may, by regulation, require.

Section 13. Transmittal of information

In accordance with any request duly made by an authorized official or agency of the United States, any information compiled or otherwise available to the Motor Vehicle Department, State Police, Game and Fish Commission and The Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries pursuant to section 8 (b) shall be transmitted to said official or agency of the United States.

Section 14. Water skis and aqua-planes

(a) No motorboat which shall have in tow or shall be otherwise assisting a person on water skis, aquaplane or similar contrivance, shall be operated or propelled in or upon any waterway, unless such motorboat shall be occupied by at least two competent persons: Provided, That this subsection shall not apply to any motorboat equipped with a wide angle, rear view mirror.

(b) No motorboat shall have in tow or shall otherwise be assisting a person on water skis, aquaplane or similar contrivance from the period of one hour after sunset to one hour prior to sunrise: Provided, That this subsection shall not apply to motorboats used in duly authorized water ski tournaments, competitions, exhibitions or trials therefor where adequate lighting is provided.

(c) All motorboats having in tow or otherwise assisting a person on water skis, aquaplane or similar contrivance, shall be operated in a careful and prudent manner and at a reasonable distance from persons and property so as not to endanger the life or property of any person.

(d) No person shall operate or manipulate any vessel, tow rope or other device by which the direction or location of water skis, aquaplane, or similar device may be affected or controlled in such a way as to cause the water skis, aquaplane, or similar device, or any persons thereon to collide with or strike against any person or object, except ski jumps, buoys and like objects normally used in competitive or recreational skiing.

Section 15. Regattas, races, marine parades, tournaments or exhibitions

(a) The Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries may authorize the holding of regattas, motorboat or other boat races, marine parades, tournaments or exhibitions on any waters of this State. It shall adopt and may, from time to time, amend regulations concerning the safety of motorboats and other vessels and persons thereon, either observers or participants. Whenever a regatta, motorboat or other boat race, marine parade, tournament or exhibition is proposed to be held, the person in charge thereof, shall, at least fifteen days prior thereto, file an application with the Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries for permission to hold such regatta, motorboat or other boat race, marine parade, tournament or exhibition. The application shall set forth the data, time and location where it is proposed to hold such regatta, motorboat or other boat race, marine parade, tournament or exhibition, and it shall not be conducted without authorization of the Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries in writing.

(b) The provisions of this section shall not exempt any person from compliance with applicable federal law or regulation, but nothing contained herein shall be construed to require the securing of a state permit pursuant to this section if a permit therefor has been obtained from an authorized agency of the United States.

Section 16. Local regulation prohibited

(a) The provisions of this act, and of other applicable laws of this State shall govern the operation, equipment, numbering and all other matters relating thereto whenever any vessel shall be operated on the waters of this State, or when any activity regulated by this act shall take place thereon; but nothing in this act shall be construed to prevent the adoption of any ordinance or local law relating to operation and equipment of vessels the provisions of which are identical to the provisions of this act, amendments thereto or regulations issued thereunder: Provided, That such ordinances or local laws shall be operative only so long as and to the extent that they continue to be identical to provisions of this act, amendments thereto or regulations issued thereunder.

(b) Any subdivision of this State may, at any time, but only after public notice, make formal application to the Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries for special rules and regulations with reference to the operation of vessels on any waters within its territorial limits and shall set forth therein the reasons which make such special rules or regulations necessary or appropriate.

(c) The Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries is hereby authorized to make special rules and regulations with reference to the operation of vessels on any waters within the territorial limits of any subdivision of this State.

Section 17. Owner's civil liability

The owner of a vessel shall be liable for any injury or damage occasioned by the negligent operation of such vessel, whether such negligence consists of a violation of the provisions of the statutes of this State, or neglecting to observe such ordinary care and such operation as the rules of the common law require. The owner shall not be liable, however, unless such vessel is being used with his or her express or implied consent. It shall be presumed that such vessel is being operated with the knowledge and consent of the owner, if at the time of the injury or damage, it is under the control of his or her spouse, father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, or other immediate member of the owner's family. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to relieve any other person from any liability which he would otherwise have, but nothing contained herein shall be construed to authorize or permit any recovery in excess of injury or damage actually incurred.

Section 18. Filing of regulations

A copy of the regulations adopted pursuant to this act, and of any amendments thereto, shall be filed in the office of the Secretary of State. Rules and regulations shall be published by the Motor Vehicle Department and the Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries in a convenient form. A pamphlet of general rules and information shall be prepared by the Motor Vehicle Department and the Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries and distributed to registrants.

Section 19. Enforcement

(a) Every peace officer of this State and its subdivisions shall have the authority to enforce the provisions of this act and in the exercise thereof shall have the authority to stop and board any vessel subject to this act.

(b) The State Police and the employees of the Game and Fish Commission shall enforce the provisions of this act on inland lakes and non-tidal streams. The State Police and the employees of the Delaware Commission of Shell Fisheries shall enforce the provisions of this act on navigable rivers, the Delaware Bay, Rehoboth Bay and Indian River Bay and waters of the Atlantic Ocean within the jurisdiction of the State of Delaware.

Section 20. Penalties

Any person who violates any provision of sections 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14 and 15 of this act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a fine of not less than twenty-five nor more than one hundred dollars, or ten days in jail, for each such violation.

Approved July 9, 1959.