CHAPTER 576

FORMERLY

HOUSE BILL NO. 510

AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENTS NO. 1, 2, 3, 4 AND 7

AND SENATE AMENDMENTS NO. 1, 2 AND 5

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 21, SUBCHAPTER 2, TITLE 23, DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO MOTORBOATS.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware (Two-thirds of the members elected to each branch thereof concurring therein):

Section 1. Amend Chapter 21, Title 23 of the Delaware Code, by striking Subchapter 11 in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"SUBCHAPTER II. REGISTRATION, EQUIPMENT

AND OPERATION

§2111. Declaration of policy

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the General Assembly and the purpose of this Act to improve boating safety and to foster greater development, use and enjoyment of all the waters of the State by encouraging and assisting participation by the State, the boating industry and the boating public in the development of boating safety programs which are more comprehensive, and by creating flexible regulatory authority concerning the use of boats and equipment. It is further declared to be the policy of the General Assembly to encourage greater and continuing uniformity of boating laws and regulations between the State, its subdivisions, and the Federal government; a higher degree of reciprocity and comity among the several jurisdictions; and closer cooperation and assistance between the State and the Federal government in developing, administering and enforcing Federal and State laws and regulations pertaining to boating safety.

§2112. Definitions

Unless as otherwise provided for in this section or Department regulations, the definitions used in this Chapter shall be the same as those used in the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971. Other definitions are:

(a) `Act' means the State Boat Act of 1974;

(b) `Department' means the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, unless stated otherwise in this Chapter;

(c) `Secretary' means the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, unless otherwise stated in this Chapter;

(d) `State' means the State of Delaware;

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

§2113. Licensing and Registration Fees

(a) All vessels subject to this Act shall be divided into classes as follows and subject to the appropriate registration fees:

Class A - less than 16 feet $ 5.00 per year

Class 1 - 16 feet or over and less than

26 feet in length 10.00 per year

Class 2- 26 feet or over and less than

40 feet in length 15.00 per year

Class 3-40 feet or over and less than

65 feet in length 25.00 per year

Class 4-65 feet or over and not required

to be documented 30.00 per year

(b) The registration number may be retained by the owner in the event of a transfer by paying a fee of three dollars ($3.00) per transfer. In the event a duplicate registration card is required, there shall be a fee of two dollars ($2.00).

(c) Non-resident vessels using the waters of this State for principal use over sixty days and non-residents owning a boat docked and/or stowed in waters of this State for over sixty days shall be required to register with the Department. Registration of a motor boat shall not be valid for more than three years.

(d) In order to permit any person to register a motor boat on any day of the week, the Department shall designate certain locations for such registration. Persons may register the boat and pay the required fee at State offices or at approved private locations. The Secretary shall develop regulations in determining the locations where fees shall be paid by the licensee. Non-state agency locations for the registration of motor boats shall not exceed three for each county.

(e) Dealers shall be issued one registration number for a fee of ten dollars ($10.00) 'and for each additional number the dealer shall pay a fee of five dollars ($5.00), to be used for demonstration purposes only.

§2114. Regulations and standards

(a) The Department shall issue rules and regulations for all vessels using State waters in accordance with the safety procedures outlined by the United States Coast Guard and present Federal law. Every vessel shall be provided with the equipment prescribed by current United States Coast Guard regulations or Department regulations, and any amendments or changes thereto. No person shall operate or give permission for the operation of a vessel which is not in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Coast Guard or the Department, and any vessel deemed unseaworthy by the Department or its agent shall not be operated on the waters of the State.

(b) The Department may issue regulations for the use, manufacture and sale of vessels to which this Act applies, with respect to: (1) the registration, numbering and marking of undocumented vessels; (2) requirements for associated equipment; (3) boat and associated equipment standards; (4) operating requirements; (5) boating safety education; and (6) safety patrol and enforcement activity.

(c) The Department shall prescribe such rules and regulations as may be necessary concerning the reporting and investigation of casualties and accidents, including those vessels otherwise exempted.

§2115. Applicability

The provisions of this Chapter shall apply to vessels and associated equipment used, to be used, or carried in vessels used on waters subject to the jurisdiction of this State.

The provisions of this Chapter, except those sections where the content expressly indicates otherwise, do not apply to:

(a) foreign vessels temporarily using waters subject to State jurisdiction;

(b) military or public vessels of the United States, except recreational-type public vessels;

(c) a vessel whose owner is a State or subdivision thereof; other than this State, which is used principally for governmental purposes, and which is clearly identifiable as such;

(d) a ship's lifeboats;

(e) vessels for sale by authorized dealers, or for charter, livery or rent by authorized persons or agencies shall be subject to all requirements referred to in this Act.

No vessel propelled safely by wind power or physical exertion shall be subject to the licensing and registration fee of this Subchapter, but shall be subject to all safety requirements referred to in §2114 herein.

§2116. Operation on noncomplying vessels prohibited

No person shall use or give permission for the use of any vessel to which this Act applies, unless the vessel is in compliance with the requirements of this Subchapter and the applicable standards and regulations promulgated under the authority of this Subchapter.

No person may use any vessel to which this Subchapter applies, including those exempt in §2114, or any water skis, aquaplane, surfboard or similar device:

(a) in a negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person; or

(b) while under the influence of alcohol, narcotic drugs, barbiturates, marijuana or hallucinogens.

§2117. Release of information

Any person may request vessel numbering and registration information from the Department, if such is retrievable from the vessel numbering system records of the State. When the Department is satisfied that the request is reasonable and related to a boating safety purpose, the information shall be furnished upon payment by such person of the cost of retrieval and furnishing of the information requested.

Boating accident reports, filed by those parties directly involved, and required under the authority of §2114 (c) of this Chapter, are not public records available for public inspection or release. The fact that such reports have been made shall be admissible in evidence solely to show compliance with this section or regulations promulgated under the authority of §2114 (c). No such report nor any part thereof nor any statement contained therein shall be admissible as evidence for any purpose in any civil or criminal trial.

Boating accident reports and any information compiled therefrom may be released to State and Federal law enforcement agencies and officials of the United States Coast Guard for analytical and statistical purposes at no cost.

§2118. Enforcement and maintenance

(a) The Department shall maintain and improve public facilities for launching of vessels in all counties of the State.

(b) The Department shall assign a boating administrator who shall be qualified by training and experience to perform the duties of his office. The Boating Administrator shall train and maintain a Marine Police force capable of insuring compliance with State law and Department regulations of all vessels using, moored or anchored on State waters. The Boating Administrator shall train and maintain a clerical staff to operate the boating safety office and all boat registration offices. For the purpose of carrying out this Act, the Marine Police shall have all the powers of investigation, detention and arrest conferred by law on peace officers, sheriffs and constables. Such officers shall have the right to arrest with a warrant for violations or without a warrant for violations of such regulations committed in their presence. Titles of the Marine Police officers shall be assigned by the Secretary.

(c) If a Marine Enforcement Officer observes a boat being used without sufficient life saving or fire fighting devices or in overloaded or other unsafe condition as defined by State or Federal law or Department regulations, and in his judgment such use creates an especially hazardous condition, he may direct the operator to take whatever immediate and reasonable steps would be necessary for the safety of those aboard the vessel, including directing the operator to return to mooring and to remain there until the situation creating the hazard is corrected or ended.

(d) Any person designated by the Secretary and empowered to enforce the provisions of State laws and Department regulations and of any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, shall have the authority to stop and board any vessel subject to State laws or Department regulations for the purpose of inspection or determining compliance with the State laws or Department regulations. Vessels of law enforcement personnel shall be marked to identify them as designated enforcement vessels.

(e) Enforcement personnel, whether in uniform or civilian clothes, shall give proper identification issued by the Secretary when boarding a vessel on waters of this State.

(f) Every vessel, if underway on the 'waters of this State' and upon being hailed by a designated law enforcement officer, shall stop immediately and lay to, or shall maneuver in such a way as to permit such officer to come ahead.

(g) The State Police shall have the same authority as the Marine Enforcement Officers in enforcement of the provisions of this Subchapter.

§2119. Budgetary implementation

(a) For purposes of implementing the provisions of this subsection, there shall be appropriated annually the funds necessary to establish and maintain reasonable support in terms of equipment and personnel to carry out the purposes of this Subchapter.

Such support shall be based on the utilization of a Boat Administrator, a Marine Police Force and the resources necessary to allow for one Marine Policeman plus equipment and operating expenses for each two thousand boats registered as of July 1 of the preceding year. Each Marine Policeman shall receive an appropriate salary as set by the Department pursuant to the Merit System.

(b) For purposes of implementing §2118 (a) of this Subchapter, there shall be appropriated not more than two dollars ($2.00) annually for every boat registered as of July 1 of the preceding fiscal year.

§2120. Regattas, motor boat races, marine parades, tournaments or exhibitions

(a) The Department may authorize the holding of regattas, motor boat 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 motor boats and other vessels and persons thereon, either observers or participants. Whenever a regatta, motor boat race or other boat race, marine parade, tournament or exhibition is proposed to be held, the person in charge thereof shall, at least thirty days prior thereto, file an application with the Department for permission to hold such regatta, motor boat race, or other boat race, marine parade, tournament or exhibition. The application shall set forth the date, time and location where it is proposed to hold such regatta, motor boat race or other boat race, marine parade, tournament or exhibition and it shall not be conducted without authorization of the Department in writing.

(b) The provisions of this section shall not exempt any person from compliance with applicable Federal law or regulation, but nothing contained in this Subchapter 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.

§2121. Local regulation restricted

(a) The provisions of this Subchapter 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 Subchapter shall take place thereon; but nothing in this Subchapter 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 Subchapter, amendments thereto or regulations issued thereunder; provided, however, 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 Subchapter, amendments thereto or regulations issued thereunder.

() Any subdivision of this State may, at any time, but only after public notice, make formal application to the Department 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.

(a) The Department shall 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.

§2122. Rules of the road

The United States Coast Guard 'Rules of the Road', 'International-Inland' and the 'United States Coast Guard Regulations (pilot rules) for Inland Waters', established pursuant thereto, and any amendments or changes thereto shall be the State law on all 'Waters of the State', unless modified by State law or Department regulations. The Marine Enforcement Officers and State Police shall have the authority for enforcement of these rules on all waters of the State.

§2123. Vessel liveries

(a) The owner of a vessel 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 motor boat or vessel, 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. When boats are three hours overdue or at the close of the day, the owner shall notify the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

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

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

(1) the lessee is physically incapable of safely operating the motor boat or vessel; or

(2) the weather is prohibitive for safe operation.

§2121. Filing of regulations

A copy of the regulations adopted pursuant to this Subchapter and any amendments thereto shall be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State. This Subchapter and the regulations of the Department shall be published by the Department in convenient form and distributed to or made available to all persons registering boats or vessels in Delaware or those operating boats or vessels in the waters of the State who request this information.

§2125. Penalties

Any person who violates any provision of this Chapter or the implementing regulations shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500.00), or up to ten days in jail for each such violation. Original jurisdiction for misdemeanors under this Chapter shall be in the Justice of the Peace Courts."

Approved July 29, 1974.