Boaters are in for some changes on Lake of the Ozarks. As one of his final acts before stepping down as governor, Eric Greitens signed into law a bill that changes the fines for lifejacket and no-wake violations and implements new guidelines for creating no-wake areas in certain size coves for larger boats.

 Boaters are in for some changes on Lake of the Ozarks. As one of his final acts before stepping down as governor, Eric Greitens signed into law a bill that changes the fines for lifejacket and no-wake violations and implements new guidelines for creating no-wake areas in certain size coves for larger boats.

The new law will reduce the fines for lifejacket and no-wake violations, such as within 100 feet of a dock, to $25 with no court costs. The current cost is over $100.

The new fines will take effect once the bill becomes law in August.

The intent is to encourage citations for lifejacket and no-wake violations that are reasonable to make more of a boater education effort to emphasize the importance of lifejackets and slowing down in no-wake areas.

The portion of the law expected to draw the most interest is the section that will allow the Water Patrol Division to issue no-wake permits for coves that are 800 feet or less at the mouth at the main channel. The no-wake in those coves will only apply to larger boats, 40-foot or over in length. In order to issue the permits, residents in the cove will have to go through a petition process.

When that will happen is unclear. According to the water patrol division, there are a number of steps that will need to be taken before the state will start looking at issuing any new permits.

Water Patrol Division Capt. Matt Walz said the process could take several months, which is not unusual when it comes to developing new rules.

“The amendment to RSMo 306.125 (the new no wake cove legislation) requires rules to be promulgated by the Department of Public Safety,” he said.  “No action can be taken on this new law until those state rules have been created and approved through the code of state regulations process. The rules are needed to provide the details on how these applications would be processed and how such coves would be marked.”

Walz said once the rules are finalized, the water patrol division will begin implementing the process. He said it is too soon to say if the water patrol division will continue the practice of holding public hearings before issuing permits for the no-wake requests but, at this point, it is most likely.  

About the law:

House Bill 2116, introduced by Rep. Robert Ross (R-District 142), was passed by the Missouri House and Senate. The original bill was aimed at exempting certain types of vessels from provisions prohibiting passengers from riding in certain areas of a motorized boat. Specifically the exemption applied to certain vessels propelled by outboard jet motors operating on non-impounded waterways from the passenger seating, guard and rail provisions.

The legislation was amended to include portions of HB 1591, introduced by Rep. David Wood (R-District 58). The portions of Wood’s bill included in the amended version of HB 2116 reduce certain fines and address no wake provisions in certain coves for boats 40-foot long or larger.