Maritime law enforcement: power to stop without reasonable suspicion

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by MikeB, Nov 1, 2010.

  1. MikeB

    MikeB Millennium Member

    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    May 20, 1999
    Location:
    SW Florida
    Trying to settle a debate with some other boaters.

    We all know that the state police can't pull us over on the highway, just to see if I'm wearing my seat belt.

    However, on the water, it seems like marine patrols can stop boats at random and do a safety check, looking for life jackets, flares, fire extinguisher, etc. AFAIK, these stops are not voluntary.

    I'm wondering how/if the courts have made a distinction between the two scenarios? Seems like the practice would have been challenged at some point, but I was unsuccessful finding any case law on the topic. Any marine cops here? What statutes/cases give you that authority?
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  2. norm357

    norm357

    Messages:
    9,982
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2003
    Tagged cause I don't know about the State Police. I know that the Coast Guard can.
     

  3. Pepper45

    Pepper45

    Messages:
    2,086
    Likes Received:
    5
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2006
    I know that they "can" as well. I'm wondering how they can do it. Every stop I perform has to be based on reasonable suspicion. State Police here can stop any person engaged in fishing or hunting to confirm they possess the proper licenses and tags, and ID the person engaged in that activity. No PC or RS is needed, AFAIK. I don't know how they get around that.
     
  4. Newcop761

    Newcop761 CLM

    Messages:
    4,712
    Likes Received:
    2,744
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2001
    Location:
    In Existential Crisis
    14 USC 89

    Looks like a combination of administrative and criminal law.
     
  5. steveksux

    steveksux Massive Member

    Messages:
    24,743
    Likes Received:
    6,973
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    The Coast Guard has gunships. Not sure how the State Police get away with it... :whistling:

    Seriously, wouldn't the same justification apply as in drunk driver checkpoints? Or is there something additional going on in the water vs on land?

    Randy
     
  6. CAcop

    CAcop

    Messages:
    30,572
    Likes Received:
    20,501
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2002
    Location:
    California
    Think about fishing license checks for a minute. What could be reasonable suspicion that someone is fishing without a license? A pole with a line into the water and no visible license? I would think so. In CA up until the last year you had to have your fishing license visible above the waist.

    As for safety checks isn't everyone supposed to have their life jackets on when in a boat? As in they could cite you for not having it on but most of the time they only cite you for not having it. See someone without a vest one=PC. They just choose not to cite for it.
     
  7. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

    Messages:
    18,480
    Likes Received:
    12,205
    Joined:
    May 4, 2003
    ?????
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2010
  8. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

    Messages:
    18,480
    Likes Received:
    12,205
    Joined:
    May 4, 2003
    Safety checks aren't criminal enforcement.
     
  9. hoven88

    hoven88 Wannabe

    Messages:
    515
    Likes Received:
    23
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2010
    Location:
    CA
    19USC143 and 19USC1401 also designates USCG officers/warant officers and petty officers as federal customs officers. All this US Code basically says we have free rain on US and international waters when dealing with US flagged vessels, and all foreign vessels in our waters. Everything we do is in the "interests" of the United States Government.
     
  10. Pepper45

    Pepper45

    Messages:
    2,086
    Likes Received:
    5
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2006
    I've wondered about it for a while, I can get the CG stops, federal officers, same thing as DUI checkpoints. But we can't run DUI checkpoints in Oregon, our state supreme court has said it violates our state constitution. CG could do their thing, they're federal, and not bound by the state constitution. Oregon doesn't require the license to be displayed, just on your person. Administrative rules allow peace officers to stop hunters and fishermen to examine ID and licenses/tags. I'm just not sure how it's done, and they get away with violating the state constitution. I know it *can* be done legally, I just wish I knew how.
     
  11. Ducowti

    Ducowti

    Messages:
    923
    Likes Received:
    35
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Location:
    SC
    In NY jackets only need be on board, not worn (mandatory wear for <12yo). Related, but slightly off the subject, in NY Nav law 73-c is must-wear between Nov 1 and about May 1 of each year if you're in a craft <21' long.
     
  12. Trigger Finger

    Trigger Finger

    Messages:
    2,316
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Location:
    Northern California
    I think you need either "Reasonable Suspicion" or "Probable Cause" to do these things. R/S is more directed at the individual and P/C can be used to indicate the overall circumstances. In California the courts have stated that vehicle check points to detect drunk drivers gives the officers P/C to randomly stop and check due to the damages a drunk driver can cause. The minor inconvenience to the non drunk driver is considered acceptable for the overall good!

    I think maritime law enforcement may not have much R/S but does have P/C. The same can be used by gang units in checking for gang membership or checking truck drivers for compliance with established driving and hauling rules.
     
  13. Bullman

    Bullman Deranged Deputy

    Messages:
    14,536
    Likes Received:
    2,053
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2003
    Location:
    SW Virginia
    But at some time during said safety check a violation of the law is discovered and a summons is issued to becomes criminal enforcement does it not? The said maritime officer is using a safety check to detain for the purpose of developing probable cause.
     
  14. MarcDW

    MarcDW MDW Guns Millennium Member

    Messages:
    3,745
    Likes Received:
    28
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 1999
    Location:
    Maine USA
    Former river patrol here.
    Maine law requires a person in possession of a assembled fishing pole to present on request a fishing license.
    We checked always for life vest and fishing licenses.
     
  15. actionshooter10

    actionshooter10 CLM

    Messages:
    1,698
    Likes Received:
    35
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Location:
    Texas
    If marine patrol/coast guard can do a safety check on a boat, why can't I do a safety check on a car?

    If fishing without a visible license is RS for contact, isn't driving without a visible license RS for contact?

    :whistling:
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2010
  16. Bullman

    Bullman Deranged Deputy

    Messages:
    14,536
    Likes Received:
    2,053
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2003
    Location:
    SW Virginia
    You get a legislature to write you that law, then we will see if it stands the scrutiny of the appellate courts, but I doubt it will fly.
     
  17. car541

    car541 Patrol Hairbag

    Messages:
    275
    Likes Received:
    10
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2004
    Location:
    texas
    In Texas, it is the statutory authority of Marine Safety Enforcement officers to make safety inspections on any boat without PC. MSEO's are peace officer's who have been trained in marine enforcement. So far as I know, all TX Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens are MSEO certified as are some Deputy Sheriff's and municipal police officers.

    Essentially, you have no right to be on the State's waters. It is a priviledge to be boating, and when you exercise that priviledge, you are subject to inspection by any MSEO.

    It is sort of like how DOT certified officers do not need probable cause to stop commercial vehicles for truck inspections.

    Texas Parks and Wildlife Code:

    Sec. 31.124. INSPECTION OF VESSELS. (a) In order to enforce the provisions of this chapter, an enforcement officer may stop and board any vessel subject to this chapter and may inspect the boat to determine compliance with applicable provisions.

    (b) An officer boarding a vessel shall first identify himself by presenting proper credentials.

    (c) The operator of a vessel required by this chapter to hold a certificate of number aboard the vessel shall show the certificate to the officer on demand, and failure to do so constitutes a violation of this chapter.

    (d) No person operating a boat on the water of this state may refuse to obey the directions of an enforcement officer when the officer is acting under the provisions of this chapter.

    (e) The safety of the vessel shall always be the paramount consideration of an arresting officer.

    (f) If an enforcement officer determines that a vessel and its associated equipment is being used in violation of this chapter or of any regulation or standard issued thereunder so as to create an especially hazardous condition, he may direct the operator to return to mooring, and the vessel may not be used until the condition creating the violation is corrected.



    Acts 1975, 64th Leg., p. 1405, ch. 545, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1975.
     
  18. janice6

    janice6

    Messages:
    45,281
    Likes Received:
    56,796
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2006
    Location:
    minnesota
    In Minnesota the Coast Guard has control of the "Navigational (?) Waterways and usually the County Sheriff does local lakes. I forgot: The DNR does what they damn well please.
     
  19. kpuscg04

    kpuscg04 ACTA NON VERBA

    Messages:
    424
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Location:
    Texas
    I've been a CG Boarding Officer for about 6 years, the last two I spent at a CG District office where I spent the majority of my time interpreting CG law enforcement policy and drafting policy.

    The CG derives the majority of its Law Enforcement authority from 14 USC 89a. 89a authorizes the USCG to conduct boardings on any vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States without RS or PC. For state and local officers, it obviously depends on that state's laws. My understanding is most states require RS or PC to initiate a boarding, some however, do not. I know that many state officers in states that require RS or PC can take part in "deputization" programs through NOAA and a couple other agencies to enforce Fisheries and Maritime Environmental Protection regs. These officers are able to initiate boardings without PC or RS, but the are working as "feds" at that time.

    The courts have upheld many time that the CG does not need RS or PC to conduct a boarding. The Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement officers do need at least RS to initiate a traffic stop. 14 USC 89a is a very old law. It was passed by the same Congress that passed the Bill of Rights. For this reason the Courts have been very hesitant to add a RS or PC requirement to boardings.
     
  20. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

    Messages:
    38,473
    Likes Received:
    145
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2002
    Location:
    It just keeps getting better, don't it?
    We do it based on rules that give us RS/PC when we observe a violation. That is the simplest way to put it. For example, the CA Vehicle Code is one huge book of RS/PC. Anything we see, such as bald tires, cracked windshield, misaligned headlights, modified exhaust, broken turn signal lenses, improperly mounted plate, tinted windows, etc., all give rise to RS/PC for a stop.

    I would say boating is the same. The Vehicle Code, Waterways and Navigable Waters Code and Penal Code all have things pertaining to regulations which we can enforce on sight. Life vests, boat markings, or even open containers in certain waterways can give rise to RS/PC for a stop.