Governor Scott signed into law a bill effective 1 July 2016, that would require probable cause when stopping boaters for routine and very numerous safety checks. The law states that vessels that display a safety check sticker would not be stopped unless there was probable cause for the check. This is not a new idea. I've been fishing in the Panhandle since 1975 and for a good portion of those years either an FWC or Coast Guard current year safety decal would usually get you a pass on the over abundant safety checks. The problem back then was that the FWC almost never seemed to have any stickers on board. One day when the FWC was approaching my boat for the second check of the day I said to the officer "Don't even start if you don't have your safety decals" He replied You will either get a safety decal or a ticket and proceeded to check absolutely everything on my boat. I didn't get a ticket, but I still get checked so much I think I must be on the BOLO (Be On the Lookout List). I fish with some folks that tell me they never get checked and I always advise them that if they are with me they can expect to be checked and often are. A couple of years ago the Coast Guard checked me three Sundays in a row
and the first two times gave me a safety check sheet and told me that if I showed it to the next Coast Guard boat that approached that they would give me a pass. I did show the second Coast Guard boat the sheet and they checked me anyway and gave me another safety check sheet. Week three when the Coast Guard approached I held up a sheet in each hand, they checked me anyway. I filed an official complaint with Coast Guard Headquarters and receive a very nice call explaining that the local detachment had failed a recent inspection and had been instructed to check every boat they saw every patrol. That made me feel much better. This is an ask the law forum so I'm asking "What is the FWC policy and Guidance concerning HR 703"?, and will the FWC be required to issued a safety check decal when they conduct a check? The old don't have my stickers just doesn't get it. Not trying to be difficult just really sincerely want to know what's going on.
Agent Coker, Thank You for Your Time and Patience