A bill designed to make random searches of boats the same as Ohio law for random searches of vehicles has been introduced by State Representatives Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) and Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont).
House Bill 594, introduced today, specifies that law enforcement personnel may only stop a vessel if they have reasonable suspicion that the vessel or vessel’s operator are in violation of marine law or otherwise engaged in criminal activity.
“There is no reason that peaceful, law-abiding citizens enjoying Lake Erie should be subjected to random and arbitrary stops,” said Rep. Murray. “We wouldn't think to tolerate this on land because such practices are fraught with opportunities for abuse. Such practices directly undermine public confidence in law enforcement. Ultimately, the perception that enforcement is unfair also undermines the ability of officers to best do their jobs of protecting us by denying them our full confidence.”
“Over the summer, there have been many complaints by people stopped just because they can be,” Damschroder stated. “HB 594 takes a common sense approach to this issue and eliminates these burdensome, intrusive, and all too common searches.” Instead, the bill only permits stop if officers have reasonable suspicion that the boat or operator is in violation of marine law or engaged in criminal activity.
“The Ohio Boating Association has expressed their support for the bill,” Damschroder continued. “Additionally, I am pleased that Representative Murray is my joint co-sponsor. We both represent the Lake Erie region and understand the importance of the legislation. This is certainly not a partisan issue and it is great to have the support of members from both sides of the aisle.”
HB 594 specifically states that law enforcement personnel may only stop a vessel with reasonable suspicion or if part of a scheduled checkpoint. Recently, the state of Michigan passed similar legislation that will become effective in November of 2012.