Alabama boat ban challenged in court

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A Jasper, Ala., boat dealer has joined a half-dozen boat owners in filing a lawsuit against Alabama’s new law due to take effect Oct. 1 that bans big boats on three state lakes, The Associated Press reported in a story on this weekend.

The suit claims the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights will be violated by the boat ban and raises a civil rights protection claim, AP reported.

The Legislature this spring banned large houseboats and boats that can run faster than 60 mph, and that are 26 feet, 11 inches or longer, from Lake Martin, Lake Harris and Weiss Lake. Backers believe the ban will reduce pollution from houseboats and prohibit large speedboats from creating wakes that damage shorelines and docks.

Jasper boat dealer Robert Nelems of Nelems Marine, which sells big boats, faces sales losses because of the law and has joined the lawsuit, said that logic makes little sense.

“By their logic, you can’t go down to your local dealer and buy a new Corvette because it will exceed the speed limit,” Nelems told AP. “There are plenty of laws that have been on the books for years that take care of loud boats, fast boats, reckless-driving boats, big boats, boats that pollute with sewage and boats that make wakes.”

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