Florida lawmaker proposes changes for water stops

FORT MYERS, Fla.- A new bill proposed in Tallahassee could prevent boaters from being randomly stopped on the water by law enforcement.

“I’m not breaking the law so why should I be stopped?” said Eric Post who supports the bill.

Under the new law, authorities would need probable cause to stop boaters. But often, marine patrols pull over a boat just to make sure everyone on board is safe, that’s why boater Jim Griffiths doesn’t support the new bill.

“Sometimes they might be bringing awareness to you to let you know, you’re not drinking but a lot of people are, so keep an eye out,” said Griffiths.

Griffiths believes the change could create crime, adding boaters who know they can’t randomly be pulled over could cause problems, especially when it comes to fishing regulations.

“Once people know that policemen can’t pull them over, fisherman are just going to go out there and catch anything they want,” said Griffiths.

Boaters like Steve Michaud say it’s about principle, “just boating, looking okay and moving along and obeying the laws, you should be left to be on your own.”

Lawmakers will starting debating the bill, drafted by Rep. Ritch Workman out of Melbourne, soon. If passed, the plan would take effect July 1.

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