2006 California Boating Safety Report
California Division of Boating and Waterways

Section 3: Boating Law Enforcement Programs

In support of the California Division of Boating and Waterways’ mission to provide leadership in promoting the public’s right to safe and enjoyable boating on California waterways, the Enforcement Unit’s primary objectives are:

  • To provide for adequate boating law enforcement through local agencies
  • To ensure that the enforcement of California boating laws is uniform throughout the State.

The Enforcement Unit meets these objectives through programs that provide officer training and financial aid to local boating law enforcement agencies.

A. Financial Aid Program (Subvention Program)

The purpose of the Boating Safety and Enforcement Financial Aid Program is to provide State financial aid to local governmental agencies whose waterways have high usage by transient boaters and an insufficient tax base to fully support a boating safety and enforcement program. The program is intended to augment existing local resources for boating safety and enforcement activities on California waterways.

These funds also support enforcement of state laws, regulations and local ordinances affecting boating activities, vessel inspection, supervision of water events, search and rescue operations, and recovery of drowned bodies.

During 2005/2006, DBW allocated $8.1 million in funding to 36 counties and 2 cities for boating law enforcement operations including maintenance, equipment, and personnel costs.

Exhibit III-1 presents a summary of services supported during this period by the financial aid program.

Boating law enforcement officers provide important safety education to the boating public. DBW’s partnerships with the law enforcement community provide DBW with an excellent resource to help educate and communicate with the recreational boater.

In FY 2005/06, law enforcement officers provided boating safety education to more than 69,000 vessel operators, primarily by means of public contact and verbal warnings, which act as teaching tools to educate boaters and help prevent accidents.

B. Marine Law Enforcement Training Program

In California, boating law enforcement is performed at the local level. This unique and efficient method of serving the recreational boater can present challenges at times.

To ensure that boating law is being properly interpreted and enforced, DBW offers an extensive marine law enforcement training program. This program services over 100 public agencies tasked with providing public safety on the water. As a result, boaters can expect uniform law enforcement on waterways throughout the State.

In 2006, DBW conducted 22 Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified classes throughout the State and trained 423 marine patrol officers. Officers learned how to apply a multitude of skills emphasizing their roles of maintaining safety on public waterways. The courses are designed for law enforcement personnel and are taught by law enforcement specialists who bring great expertise and credibility to the training program.

Recent improvement to the Accident Investigation/Reconstruction (new Vessel Accident Report Manual) and Boating Intoxication Enforcement (new Boating Under the Influence video) continue to keep California on the cutting edge of marine law enforcement training.

DBW offers training classes in the following areas:

  • Basic Boating Safety and Enforcement
  • Boating Accident Investigation / Reconstruction
  • Boating Intoxication Enforcement
  • Boating – Basic Skills Training
  • Coastal Piloting and Navigation
  • Marine Firefighting
  • Personal Watercraft
  • Seamanship – Rescue Boat Operations