this slowpoke moves


this slowpoke moves


HB209 Lake Martin’s New Proximity Law

There's a new law that takes effect this October and it applies to every boater.

What is It?  HB209 is a proximity law that passed legislation and takes effect this October 1st, 2024.  It applies to every motorized vessel. The new law prohibits ANY motorboat from operating above idle speed within 100 feet of any shoreline, dock, pier, boathouse or other structure.   It also prohibits wakeboarding and wakesurfing within 200 feet of any any shoreline, dock, pier, boathouse or other structure and in areas less than 400′ wide.   Additional provisions of the bill restrict water sport activities between sunset and sunrise and require a United States Coast Guard Approved Flotation Device.

How is the Proximity Law going to be enforced?

I reached out to a representative from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Marine Patrol Division to get an Answer.  

The Marine Patrol plans to enforce the new wake surfing/wake boarding regulatory law and the 100-foot proximity restriction through a combination of education and directed patrol – and there will be times when both are done simultaneously. We ask people to keep in mind that this law does NOT go into effect until October 1, 2024 on Lake Martin. We will use the law to address specific complaints in specific locations, we will use geographical measurements taken from sources such as Google Earth and laser measuring devices to patrol specific locations for violators with an eye toward applying common sense and discretion. There will be an adjustment period for everyone involved – lake residents, lake users and the Marine Patrol Division. We want to use the law to get boaters in the practice of reducing their wake (and subsequently their speeds) when approaching shoreline, docks or piers, or other structures. We also ask people to keep in mind that we are required by law to write warnings for first offenses for one year. We will emphasize the law heavily in our Boat Alabama boating safety classes and we will utilize our social media platforms and all of our public information releases to increase awareness. We are working to place approved regulatory signs at public boat ramps and those signs will be made available to marinas as well. We also are working to develop a public-facing GIS application that will be interactive and highlight areas of the lake where these activities are prohibited. Boaters will be able to access this application using the internet and/or their smart phones. One question we’ve gotten already is how boaters can estimate distance. Boaters navigate using landmarks and become familiar with areas, which will help. Boaters also have the same applications and other devices available to them to help them judge distance that our troopers will utilize. Drivers are required by motor vehicle laws in Alabama to signal continuously for 100 feet before turning, so distance requirements in the law are nothing new – ultimately operators will learn to judge distances by either technological assistance, experience and awareness or a combination of all 3.

As boaters how can we judge 100', 200' and 400'

Distance over water is hard to judge so for a visual reference;

  • 100′ is approximately the length of 4 large pontoon boats end to end
  • 400′ is the length of the Bridge to Nowhere, you can find this on Google Earth
  • 200′ to shore would be the distance to shore when passing under the center of the Bridge to Nowhere

Please note the bridge to nowhere is a NO WAKE area and is being referenced for a VISUAL REFERENCE ONLY to help gauge distance.

You can download Google Earth to your mobile device and measure any area in question so you have a plan before you head out to surf or wakeboard. 

You can read the full text of the new law online

1 thought on “HB209 Lake Martin’s New Proximity Law”

  1. Alayne Wilson

    We have a family place on Little Kowliga Creek next to Central Elmore Water Authority and have endured years of rude boaters! We will NOW be the landing place for ALL the rude and thoughtless wake board boats and seadoo users since water patrol makes MAYBE one pass our way around 4 p.m if at ALL over a weekend period!! This new law is great but until I see more of a law enforcement presence during the hours of heavy boat/water craft usage it’s just a feel good gesture from our perspective. It’s so bad between 9:30a.m. and 2 p.m. that it robs us of our ability to enjoy the water in front of our house because the swells are liken to the gulf swells before a storm. We see, on a REGULAR basis waves rolling over our seawall in excess of 2 feet and they even rack our pontoon boat which is on a lift. And heaven help you if you’re on a float!

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