Connecticut Seal

Substitute House Bill No. 6760

Public Act No. 05-133

AN ACT CONCERNING BOATING SAFETY.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 15-156 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2005):

(a) Any person who violates any provision of this part for which a penalty is not provided shall have committed an infraction.

(b) No person to whom a safe boating certificate or certificate of personal watercraft operation has been refused, or whose certificate or right to operate a vessel in this state has been suspended or revoked, shall operate any vessel during the period of such refusal, suspension or revocation. No person shall operate or cause to be operated any vessel, the registration of which has been suspended or revoked.

(c) Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, any person who violates any provision of subsection (b) of this section shall be fined not less than one hundred fifty dollars or more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or be both fined and imprisoned for the first offense, and for any subsequent offense shall be fined not less than two hundred dollars or more than six hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or be both fined and imprisoned.

[(b)] (d) (1) Any person who operates any vessel during the period such person's certificate or right to operate a vessel in this state is under suspension or revocation on account of a violation of subsection (d) of section 15-133 or subsection (c) of section 15-154, as amended by this act, shall be fined not less than five hundred dollars or more than one thousand dollars and imprisoned not more than one year. In the absence of any mitigating circumstances, as determined by the court, thirty consecutive days of the sentence imposed may not be suspended or reduced in any manner. The court shall specifically state, in writing, for the record the mitigating circumstances, or the absence thereof.

(2) Any person convicted of reckless operation of a vessel in the first or second degree while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, or both, in violation of section 15-140l or 15-140n, who operates a vessel during the period such person's certificate or right to operate a vessel in this state is under suspension or revocation, in addition to any penalties imposed in accordance with said sections or section 15-140o, shall be fined not less than five hundred dollars or more than one thousand dollars and imprisoned not more than one year. In the absence of any mitigating circumstances as determined by the court, thirty consecutive days of the sentence imposed may not be suspended or reduced in any manner. The court shall specifically state, in writing, for the record any mitigating circumstances, or the absence thereof.

(3) A court having jurisdiction of a violation of subdivision (1) or (2) of this subsection may [be prohibited by the court having jurisdiction of such violation] prohibit such person from operating any vessel on any waters of this state for a period of not more than two years. Notice of such suspension shall be transmitted forthwith by the court to the Commissioner of Environmental Protection and the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. [Any person who operates a vessel in violation of such a prohibition shall be fined two hundred dollars. ]

(e) Any person who has had a safe boating certificate or certificate of personal watercraft operation suspended or revoked under subsection (d) of section 15-133, section 15-140l or 15-140n or section 15-154, as amended by this act, shall, not later than two business days after the suspension or revocation takes effect, return the certificate to the commissioner. If such person fails to return the certificate to the commissioner, the commissioner shall direct a conservation law enforcement officer to secure possession thereof and to return the certificate to the office of the commissioner. Failure of such person to return the certificate shall be an infraction.

Sec. 2. Section 15-154 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2005):

(a) Any harbor master, deputy harbor master, conservation officer, special conservation officer or state police officer and any municipal police officer, any special police officer appointed under sections 29-18 and 29-19, any town marine officers appointed under section 15-154a and certified by the commissioner for marine police duty and any lake patrolman appointed under section 7-151b may enforce the provisions of this chapter and chapter 446k, except that only peace officers shall enforce the provisions of subsection (d) of section [15-33] 15-133 and sections 15-140l and 15-140n. In the enforcement of this chapter, such officer may arrest, without previous complaint and warrant, any person who fails to comply with the provisions of this chapter. Failure to appear in court pursuant to such arrest, unless excused by the court or the state's attorney or assistant state's attorney, shall constitute sufficient cause for the suspension by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles of the boat registration of the boat involved for not more than thirty days or until the matter is resolved by the court, whichever is sooner.

(b) When engaged in the enforcement of this chapter and chapter 446k, such officer shall have the authority to stop and board any vessel which is under way or which is moored on the waters of this state for the purposes of (1) examining decals, certificates and other documents, (2) inspecting safety equipment and waste disposal systems, (3) determining if the operation of such vessel exceeds the noise levels established in subsection (b) of section 15-129, (4) searching when such officer has probable cause to believe that any provision of any law of this state or any rule or regulation of the Department of Environmental Protection relating to boating or water pollution has been violated, (5) determining compliance with sections 15-140l and 15-140n and subsections (d) and (e) of section 15-133, when such authorized officer has probable cause to believe said section or subsection has been violated, and (6) making arrests.

(c) No person operating a vessel shall refuse to stop such vessel or, if sea conditions make stopping in that area unsafe, refuse to take such vessel to a designated area after being requested or signalled to do so by such officer. Any person operating a vessel who refuses to stop or refuses to take such vessel to the designated area shall have committed an infraction. Any person, when signalled to stop by such officer in a law enforcement vessel using an audible signal device or flashing blue lights, who operates such vessel in disregard of such signal so as to [(A)] (1) interfere with or endanger the operation of the law enforcement vessel or any other vessel, [(B)] (2) endanger or cause damage to property or person, or [(C)] (3) increase or maintain speed in an attempt to escape or elude such law enforcement officer shall be [fined not less than one hundred dollars or more than five hundred dollars for a first offense and for any subsequent offense shall be fined not less than five hundred dollars or more than one thousand dollars] guilty of a class A misdemeanor. If such violation causes the death or serious physical injury of another person, the vessel operator shall be guilty of a class D felony, and such operator's safe boating certificate, certificate of personal watercraft operation or right to operate a vessel that requires a certificate shall be suspended for one year. For any subsequent offense, such operator shall be guilty of a class D felony, except that if any prior offense by such operator under this section caused, and such subsequent offense causes, the death or serious physical injury of another person, such operator shall be guilty of a class D felony for which one year of the sentence imposed may not be suspended or reduced by the court, and such operator's safe boating certificate, certificate of personal watercraft operation or right to operate a vessel that requires a certificate shall be suspended for not less than eighteen months or more than two years. Proof of the registration number of the vessel shall be prima facie evidence in any prosecution that the owner was the operator. For purposes of this subsection, "serious physical injury" means physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health or serious loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.

[(c)] (d) The Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall publish an enforcement manual, conduct training and educational sessions, serve as liaison between the enforcement groups and the Superior Court and shall be generally responsible for the overall coordination of enforcement.

Sec. 3. Section 15-149a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2005):

(a) Any person operating a vessel upon the waters of this state which vessel is in any manner involved in an accident in which any person dies, is injured so as to require medical attention, or disappears, shall immediately notify the nearest law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over such accident and, [within] not later than forty-eight hours after such accident, report the matter in writing to the Commissioner of Environmental Protection. The report shall be on a form prescribed by the commissioner and shall state as accurately as possible the time, place and cause of such accident, the injuries occasioned by the accident and any other facts the commissioner deems necessary. If such operator is physically incapable of notifying the nearest law enforcement agency or of making such report and there is another participant or passenger in the accident not incapacitated, such participant or passenger shall immediately notify the nearest law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over such accident and make the report to the commissioner [within] not later than forty-eight hours after such accident. Any person operating a vessel upon the waters of this state which is in any manner involved in an accident in which the total damages to all property affected by such accident, including property of such operator, is in excess of five hundred dollars, such person shall, [within] not later than five days after such accident, report the matter in writing to the commissioner on such forms as said commissioner may prescribe. If there is no person other than the owner capable of making such report or if the report has not been submitted and the owner of such vessel is not incapacitated, such owner shall, [within] not later than five days after learning of the facts of such accident, report the matter to the commissioner, on such forms as said commissioner may prescribe. Any such operator of a vessel, or surviving participant or passenger in any such accident, or the owner of the vessel involved in any such accident, shall provide any other information or additional report as the commissioner shall require. Failure of any person to comply with any provision of this subsection shall be an infraction.

(b) Except in an emergency, no vessel towboat operator who for a fee or other compensation conducts vessel towing services for recreational boaters shall take under tow any vessel which has been involved in a boating accident or has been abandoned without first notifying federal, state or municipal law enforcement authorities and the owner of the vessel. In the event circumstances are such that the vessel should be immediately towed to safety to prevent loss of the vessel or injury to passengers, the towboat operator shall immediately notify such authorities upon reaching safe harbor. Failure to notify law enforcement authorities and the vessel owner as required by the provisions of this subsection shall be an infraction.

Sec. 4. Section 15-143 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2005):

(a) Vessels of the following classes are not required to be numbered or display a Connecticut registration decal by this state: (1) Motorboats which have a valid marine document issued by the United States Coast Guard, provided the owner of any such vessel used upon the waters of this state for more than sixty days in any calendar year shall be required to comply with the registration requirements in section 15-144; (2) vessels owned in countries other than the United States temporarily using the waters of the state; (3) vessels owned by the United States, a state or a political subdivision of a state which are used in the performance of governmental functions; (4) vessels used exclusively as ships' lifeboats; (5) vessels belonging to any class which the Commissioner of Environmental Protection exempts upon finding that the numbering of such vessels does not materially aid in their identification; provided, the commissioner shall not exempt any such class of vessels which is subject to the provisions of the federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 and which has not been exempted therefrom under the provisions of Subsection (b) of Section 19 of said act; (6) vessels principally used in another state for which valid, effective certificates of number were awarded by the United States or by such other state pursuant to the provisions of the federal Boat Safety Act of 1971; provided, the owner of a vessel used upon the waters of this state for more than sixty days in any calendar year shall be required to comply with the registration requirements in section 15-144; and (7) any vessel less than nineteen and one-half feet in length which is not a motorboat as defined in section 15-141, and any vessel propelled solely by oar or paddle.

(b) Vessels, the sale or transfer of which is subject to the provisions of Section 37 of the Shipping Act, 1916, shall be numbered by this state only when such sale or transfer is approved by the United States Maritime Administration.

Approved June 24, 2005