Virginia anti-personal watercraft bill tabled for the year

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Personal watercraft owners throughout Virginia no longer need to worry about the specter of local bans across the Commonwealth, at least not for the 2004 boating season, a press release this morning said.

Virginia House Bill 695, which would have enabled Virginia localities to single out personal watercraft for bans and restrictions on bodies of water that allow motor boating, was tabled for any further consideration during the 2004 legislative session.

“This bill is typical of discriminatory efforts being championed by anti-boating groups across the country” said Christian Gullott, manager of state affairs for the Personal Watercraft Industry Association. “I believe this bill raised serious questions among legislators about the wisdom of passing laws that arbitrarily parcels which taxpayers can and can’t use the public waterways.”

Current law provides strong behavioral guidelines for the safe and responsible operation of motorboats in the Commonwealth, including personal watercraft. Other Virginia regulations regarding the safe operation of personal watercraft include mandatory use of life jackets, operation only during daylight hours, reasonable and prudent operation at all times, minimum age limits, targeted mandatory education for operators, and 50-foot shoreline/swimmer buffer zones.

“PWC are already the most highly regulated vessels in the Commonwealth,”
Gullott said. “Current law already allows localities throughout
Virginia to adopt safe boating regulations within their jurisdictions.”

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