Officer Authority


Under the law, no person shall operate a vessel in a reckless or negligent manner, endangering life, limb or property.

Every peace officer of the state, city, county or harbor district is empowered to enforce general boating laws, navigation regulations, and local restrictions. Peace officers have the authority to stop and board any vessel where the peace officer has probable cause to believe that a violation of state law or regulations or local ordinance exists. The use of a distinctive blue light is reserved for law enforcement vessels.

Any vessel approaching, overtaking, being approached, or being overtaken by a moving law enforcement vessel operating with a siren or an illuminated blue light, shall immediately slow, alter its course, and proceed at a reduced speed until beyond the area of operation of the law enforcement vessel. Every vessel underway and lawfully ordered to stop by a peace officer or harbor policeman shall stop immediately and permit the peace officer or harbor police vessel to come alongside.

Peace officers can order the operator of an unsafe vessel to shore. A vessel can be ordered to the nearest safe moorage if an unsafe condition is found that cannot be corrected on the spot and the officer believes continued operation of the vessel could be hazardous.

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