- May 9, 2012
- Alexandria/Parksley, VA
- First Name
- Boat Make
- 1976 20' Eastporter; 1976 16' Stratford dory
Federal safety rule, which goes into effect April 1, 2021, applies to boats less than 26 feet operating at plane or above displacement speed.Exceptions to the ECOS requirement include if the main helm of the vessel is in an enclosed cabin or the vessel is not operating on plane or at displacement speed. Low-speed activities such as trolling or docking do not require use of an ECOS. The vessel operator is also exempt if the boat's motor produces less than 115 pounds of static thrust — or about the size of a 3-hp engine.
The new rule applies to all navigable waterways. Current federal law preempts states from enacting or enforcing a law on a subject that is different from a federal law on the same subject. States also cannot enforce federal law. The National Safe Boating Council notes that the U.S. Coast Guard expects to reach out to the seven states (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, and Texas) that currently have some form of ECOS requirement to determine enforcement. In the 43 states without ECOS rules, it's expected that a new ECOS law violation would be adjudicated in federal court. While boat operators who fail to follow the new requirement could face a $100 civil penalty for the first offense, BoatUS expects the Coast Guard's initial focus will be education.