Dock trespassing bill waiting governor's signature

Joyce L. Miller
Lake Sun, USA TODAY NETWORK
Docks on Lake of the Ozarks

A bill awaiting the governor’s signature will offer some relief to property owners who have problems with boaters trespassing on and anchoring boats and personal watercraft within 100 feet of their dock. The same bill will also give boat owners an option for a permanent registration.

On Lake of the Ozarks the problem with anchoring to close to docks has becoming more and more of an issue with the number of boats that anchor in coves all over the lake. Technically, unless a dock is deeded a certain way, it is not considered real property and therefore it’s not illegal for someone to go onto another person’s dock. So there was no recourse for property owners to pursue trespassing charges.

According to Missouri Highway Patrol Corporal Kyle Green, speaking on behalf of the water patrol division, Senate Bill 49 addressed that issue as well as anchoring near docks. 

“The bill would prohibit boats positioned within 100 feet of a permitted boat dock from being anchored in a manner that obstructs ingress or egress of watercraft to or from the dock. That is something that we could always address with current laws but this addresses it specifically.” Green said.  “This also would prohibit someone from securing a vessel or entering upon a private permitted boat dock without authorization. All of those would be an infraction.”

If cited, violators could face a fine.

The bill also gives boat owners an option for permanent registration in lieu of going through the process every three years.

Green said the permanent registration requires a payment three times the normal three-year rate and is not transferrable.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Justin Brown, R-Rolla. It was the second time the bill had been filed. Ameren Missouri and the Missouri Highway Patrol testified in favor of the bill.

PERMANENT VESSEL REGISTRATION (Section 306.030)

This act provides that vessels may be issued a permanent certificate of number upon payment of three times the amount required for a three-year certificate of number and three times any processing fee applicable to a three-year certificate of number. Permanent certificates of number shall not be transferred to any other person or vessel, or displayed on any vessel other than the vessel for which it was issued, and shall continue in force and effect until terminated or discontinued as provided by law. (Section 306.030.6)

PERMITTED BOAT DOCKS, AND OBSTRUCTIONS CAUSED BY VESSELS (Section 306.221)

This act prohibits vessels positioned within 100 feet of a permitted boat dock from being anchored in a manner that obstructs ingress or egress of watercraft to or from the dock, unless authorized by the boat dock permit holder. The act also provides that no person shall secure a vessel to or enter upon a private permitted boat dock unless authorized to do so by the boat dock permit holder, or as specified in the act. A violation of these provisions shall be an infraction.

This act also specifies that operating or positioning a vessel in a manner that obstructs or impedes the normal flow of traffic on the waters of this state shall be an infraction, rather than a Class C misdemeanor for a first offense or a Class B misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense.