[USC02] 46 USC Ch. 43: RECREATIONAL VESSELS
Result 1 of 1
   
 

TEXT OF PART V OF SUBTITLE A (3001 ET SEQ.), EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2022, CURRENTLY SET OUT AS A PREVIEW

46 USC Ch. 43: RECREATIONAL VESSELS
From Title 46—SHIPPINGSubtitle II—Vessels and SeamenPart B—Inspection and Regulation of Vessels

CHAPTER 43—RECREATIONAL VESSELS

Sec.
4301.
Application.
4302.
Regulations.
4303.
Inspection and testing.
4304.
Importation of nonconforming vessels and equipment.
4305.
Exemptions and equivalents.
4306.
Federal preemption.
4307.
Prohibited acts.
4308.
Termination of unsafe operation.
4309.
Investigation and reporting.
4310.
Repair and replacement of defects.
4311.
Penalties and injunctions.
4312.
Engine cut-off switches.

        

Historical and Revision Notes

Chapter 43 contains the laws applicable to recreational vessels, which originated primarily with the enactment of the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 (Public Law 92–75, 85 Stat. 213). That Act embraced a number of activities, but the portion restated in this chapter deals with the establishment of national construction and performance standards for recreational vessels and their associated equipment, the necessary flexible regulatory authority for inspection and testing, Federal preemption, certain necessary prohibited acts, enforcement authority, investigation and reporting requirements, procedures for repair and defect notification, and attendant penalties and injunctive relief. These laws are a direct response to the dramatic increase in the number of recreational boats and the Congressional recognition of the maritime safety problems that recreational boating has imposed upon our more than 25 million miles of waterways.


Editorial Notes

Amendments

2021Pub. L. 116–283, div. G, title LVXXXIII [LXXXIII], §8318(b), Jan. 1, 2021, 134 Stat. 4700, substituted "Exemptions and equivalents" for "Exemptions" in item 4305.

2018Pub. L. 115–282, title V, §503(b), Dec. 4, 2018, 132 Stat. 4271, added item 4312.

§4301. Application

(a) This chapter applies to a recreational vessel and associated equipment carried in the vessel on waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States (including the territorial sea of the United States as described in Presidential Proclamation No. 5928 of December 27, 1988) and, for a vessel owned in the United States, on the high seas.

(b) Except when expressly otherwise provided, this chapter does not apply to a foreign vessel temporarily operating on waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

(c) Until there is a final judicial decision that they are navigable waters of the United States, the following waters lying entirely in New Hampshire are declared not to be waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States within the meaning of this section: Lake Winnisquam, Lake Winnipesaukee, parts of the Merrimack River, and their tributary and connecting waters.

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 529; Pub. L. 105–383, title III, §301(b)(4), Nov. 13, 1998, 112 Stat. 3417.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised sectionSource section (U.S. Code)
4301 46:1453

Section 4301 provides that this chapter is applicable to a recreational vessel that operates on waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States or that is owned in the United States and while operating on the high seas.

It also provides that a foreign recreational vessel that temporarily uses our waters is not subject to the requirements of this chapter. However, if the vessel remains permanently in the United States, it would be subject to the provisions of this chapter.

Section 4301(c) recognizes the ongoing controversy over the navigability of certain waters of New Hampshire. While a recreational vessel operating on these waters need not meet the requirements of this chapter, it would be prohibited from operating on any other waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States if it does not comply with these requirements.


Editorial Notes

References in Text

Presidential Proclamation No. 5928, referred to in subsec. (a), is set out under section 1331 of Title 43, Public Lands.

Amendments

1998—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 105–383 inserted "(including the territorial sea of the United States as described in Presidential Proclamation No. 5928 of December 27, 1988)" after "of the United States".


Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries

Effective Date

Chapter effective Apr. 15, 1984, see section 2(g)(1) of Pub. L. 98–89, set out as a note under section 3101 of this title.

§4302. Regulations

(a) The Secretary may prescribe regulations—

(1) establishing minimum safety standards for recreational vessels and associated equipment, and establishing procedures and tests required to measure conformance with those standards, with each standard—

(A) meeting the need for recreational vessel safety; and

(B) being stated, insofar as practicable, in terms of performance;


(2) requiring the installation, carrying, or use of associated equipment (including fuel systems, ventilation systems, electrical systems, sound-producing devices, firefighting equipment, lifesaving devices, signaling devices, ground tackle, life- and grab-rails, and navigational equipment) on recreational vessels and classes of recreational vessels subject to this chapter, and prohibiting the installation, carrying, or use of associated equipment that does not conform with safety standards established under this section; and

(3) requiring or permitting the display of seals, labels, plates, insignia, or other devices for certifying or evidencing compliance with safety regulations and standards of the United States Government for recreational vessels and associated equipment.


(b) Each regulation prescribed under this section shall specify an effective date that is not earlier than 180 days from the date the regulation was published, unless the Secretary finds that there exists a recreational vessel safety hazard so critical as to require an earlier effective date. However, this period may not be more than 24 months for cases involving, in the discretion of the Secretary, major product design, retooling, or major changes in the manufacturing process.

(c) In prescribing regulations under this section, the Secretary shall, among other things—

(1) consider the need for and the extent to which the regulations will contribute to recreational vessel safety;

(2) consider relevant available recreational vessel safety standards, statistics, and data, including public and private research, development, testing, and evaluation;

(3) not compel substantial alteration of a recreational vessel or item of associated equipment that is in existence, or the construction or manufacture of which is begun before the effective date of the regulation, but subject to that limitation may require compliance or performance, to avoid a substantial risk of personal injury to the public, that the Secretary considers appropriate in relation to the degree of hazard that the compliance will correct; and

(4) consult with the National Boating Safety Advisory Committee established under section 15105 of this title about the considerations referred to in clauses (1)–(3) of this subsection.


(d) Section 8903 of this title does not apply to a vessel being operated for bona fide dealer demonstrations provided without fee to business invitees. However, if on the basis of substantial evidence, the Secretary decides under this section that requiring vessels so operated to be under the control of licensed individuals is necessary for boating safety, then the Secretary may prescribe regulations requiring the licensing of individuals controlling these vessels in the same manner as provided in chapter 89 of this title for individuals in control of vessels carrying passengers for hire.

(e)(1) Under this section, a model year for recreational vessels and associated equipment shall, except as provided in paragraph (2)—

(A) begin on June 1 of a year and end on July 31 of the following year; and

(B) be designated by the year in which it ends.


(2) Upon the request of a recreational vessel manufacturer to which this chapter applies, the Secretary may alter a model year for a model of recreational vessel of the manufacturer and associated equipment, by no more than 6 months from the model year described in paragraph (1).

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 530; Pub. L. 114–120, title III, §303(a), Feb. 8, 2016, 130 Stat. 53; Pub. L. 115–282, title VI, §601(c)(4)(B)(i), Dec. 4, 2018, 132 Stat. 4290.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised sectionSource section (U.S. Code)
4302 46:1454

46:1455

46:1456

46:1464(g)

46:1488

Section 4302 authorizes the Secretary to prescribe regulations to carry out the provisions of this chapter. In lieu of establishing specific statutory safety requirements, subsection (a) provides flexible regulatory authority to establish uniform standards for the design, construction, materials, and performance of the boats themselves and all associated equipment. It also provides for the display of seals and other devices for certifying or evidencing compliance with applicable safety regulations or standards.

Section 4302(b) requires a regulation prescribed under this section to have an effective date that is not earlier than 180 days from publication. However, in those instances where a safety hazard may be critical an earlier effective date is authorized.

Section 4302(c) requires the Secretary to consider certain objectives in developing regulatory controls and regulations or standards and that there must be an effective consultation process.

Section 4302(d) exempts dealer demonstration boats from the requirement of having to be named by a licensed individual when demonstrating boats to prospective purchasers or other business invitees when no fees are charged. The Secretary may require that boats so used be under control of a licensed individual.


Editorial Notes

Amendments

2018—Subsec. (c)(4). Pub. L. 115–282 substituted "Committee established under section 15105 of this title" for "Council established under section 13110 of this title".

2016—Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 114–120 added subsec. (e).


Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries

Effective Date of 2016 Amendment

Pub. L. 114–120, title III, §303(b), Feb. 8, 2016, 130 Stat. 53, provided that: "This section [amending this section] shall only apply with respect to recreational vessels and associated equipment constructed or manufactured, respectively, on or after the date of enactment of this Act [Feb. 8, 2016]."

Equipment Requirements; Exemption From Throwable Personal Flotation Devices Requirement

Pub. L. 115–282, title VIII, §827, Dec. 4, 2018, 132 Stat. 4314, provided that: "Not later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act [Dec. 4, 2018], the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall—

"(1) prescribe regulations in part 160 of title 46, Code of Federal Regulations, that treat a marine throw bag, as that term is commonly used in the commercial whitewater rafting industry, as a type of lifesaving equipment; and

"(2) revise section 175.17 of title 33, Code of Federal Regulations, to exempt rafts that are 16 feet or more overall in length from the requirement to carry an additional throwable personal flotation device when such a marine throw bag is onboard and accessible."

Visual Distress Signals and Alternative Use

Pub. L. 115–282, title VIII, §828, Dec. 4, 2018, 132 Stat. 4314, provided that:

"(a) In General.—The Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall develop a performance standard for the alternative use and possession of visual distress alerting and locating signals as mandated by carriage requirements for recreational boats in subpart C of part 175 of title 33, Code of Federal Regulations.

"(b) Regulations.—Not later than 180 days after the performance standard for alternative use and possession of visual distress alerting and locating signals is finalized, the Secretary shall revise part 175 of title 33, Code of Federal Regulations, to allow for carriage of such alternative signal devices."

Large Recreational Vessel Regulations

Pub. L. 115–232, div. C, title XXXV, §3529(a), Aug. 13, 2018, 132 Stat. 2318, provided that:

"(a) In General.—

"(1) Issuance.—The Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall issue large recreational vessel regulations applicable to any recreational vessel (as defined in section 2101 of title 46, United States Code) over 300 gross tons as measured under section 14502 of such title, or an alternate tonnage measured under section 14302 of such title as prescribed by the Secretary under section 14104 of such title, that does not carry any cargo or passengers for hire.

"(2) Scope and content of regulations.—The regulations issued under this subsection—

"(A) subject to subparagraph (B), shall be comparable to the code set forth in Merchant Shipping Notice 1851(M) (commonly referred to as the 'Large Commercial Yacht Code (LY3)'), as published by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the United Kingdom on August 20, 2013, or an equivalent code, regulation, or standard that is acceptable to the Secretary; and

"(B) shall require that, as part of the review of an application for documentation of a vessel that is subject to the regulations, the owner shall disclose to the Coast Guard—

"(i) the identification and place of residence of such owner; and

"(ii) if the owner is an entity described in paragraph (2), (3), or (4) of section 12103(b) of title 46, United States Code, the beneficial owners of such entity.

"(3) Deadline.—The Secretary shall issue regulations required by paragraph (1) by not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act [Aug. 13, 2018].

"(4) Interim compliance.—Until the effective date of regulations issued under paragraph (1), a recreational vessel described in paragraph (1) shall not be subject to inspection under section 3301(7) of title 46, United States Code, if the Secretary determines, as part of the review of the application for documentation submitted for the vessel by the owner of the vessel and other materials as considered necessary by the Secretary, that the vessel complies with the code set forth in Merchant Shipping Notice 1851(M) (commonly referred to as the 'Large Commercial Yacht Code (LY3)'), as published by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the United Kingdom on August 20, 2013, or an equivalent code, regulation, or standard that is acceptable to the Secretary.

"(5) Definitions.—

"(A) Beneficial owner.—In this subsection the term 'beneficial owner'—

"(i) means, with respect to an entity, each natural person who, directly or indirectly—

     "(I) exercises control over the entity through ownership interests, voting rights, agreements, or otherwise; or

     "(II) has an interest in or receives substantial economic benefits from the assets of the entity; and

"(ii) does not include, with respect to an entity—

     "(I) a minor child;

     "(II) a person acting as a nominee, intermediary, custodian, or agent on behalf of another person;

     "(III) a person acting solely as an employee of the entity and whose control over or economic benefits from the entity derives solely from the employment status of the person;

     "(IV) a person whose only interest in the entity is through a right of inheritance, unless the person otherwise meets the definition of 'beneficial owner' under this subparagraph; and

     "(V) a creditor of the entity, unless the creditor otherwise meets the requirements of 'beneficial owner' under this subparagraph.

"(B) Owner.—In this subsection, other than in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, the term 'owner' means the person who is the eligible owner of the vessel for purposes of section 12103(b) of title 46, United States Code."

Availability and Use of EPIRBs for Recreational Vessels

Pub. L. 105–383, title III, §309, Nov. 13, 1998, 112 Stat. 3422, provided that: "The Secretary of Transportation, through the Coast Guard and in consultation with the National Transportation Safety Board and recreational boating organizations, shall, within 24 months of the date of the enactment of this Act [Nov. 13, 1998], assess and report to Congress on the use of emergency position indicating beacons (EPIRBs) and similar devices by operators of recreational vessels on the Intracoastal Waterway and operators of recreational vessels beyond the Boundary Line. The assessment shall at a minimum—

"(1) evaluate the current availability and use of EPIRBs and similar devices by the operators of recreational vessels and the actual and potential contribution of such devices to recreational boating safety; and

"(2) provide recommendations on policies and programs to encourage the availability and use of EPIRBS [sic] and similar devices by the operators of recreational vessels."

§4303. Inspection and testing

(a) Subject to regulations, supervision, and reviews that the Secretary may prescribe, the Secretary may delegate to a person, private or public agency, or organization, or to an officer or employee under the supervision of that person or agency, any work, business, or function related to the testing, inspection, and examination necessary for compliance enforcement and for the development of data to enable the Secretary to prescribe regulations under section 4302 of this title.

(b) The Secretary may—

(1) conduct research, testing, and development necessary to carry out this chapter, including the procurement by negotiation or otherwise of experimental and other recreational vessels or associated equipment for research and testing purposes; and

(2) subsequently sell those vessels.

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 531.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised sectionSource section (U.S. Code)
4303 46:1457

Section 4303 authorizes the Secretary to delegate to certain persons or agencies or organizations any work, business, or function related to the testing, inspection, and examination necessary for compliance enforcement. The Secretary may also conduct research, testing, and development necessary to carry out this chapter, including procurement of vessels and equipment and their subsequent sale. The Committee wishes to make clear that the Secretary may sell anything that was purchased to test.

§4304. Importation of nonconforming vessels and equipment

The Secretary and the Secretary of the Treasury may authorize by joint regulations the importation of any nonconforming recreational vessel or associated equipment on conditions, including providing a bond, that will ensure that the recreational vessel or associated equipment will be brought into conformity with applicable safety regulations and standards of the Government before the vessel or equipment is operated on waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 531.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised sectionSource section (U.S. Code)
4304 46:1460

Section 4304 requires the regulation and control of the importation of nonconforming recreational vessels and associated equipment. This is to assure United States manufacturers that foreign imports comply with those regulations and standards in effect for United States products so that all manufacturers will be on this same competitive footing. This is being done in lieu of providing a specific prohibition against the importation of these vessels and equipment that might be considered an imposition of a non-tariff barrier to trade.

§4305. Exemptions and equivalents

(a) Exemptions.—If the Secretary considers that recreational vessel safety will not be adversely affected, the Secretary may issue an exemption from this chapter or a regulation prescribed under this chapter.

(b) Equivalents.—The Secretary may accept a substitution for associated equipment performance or other safety standards for a recreational vessel if the substitution provides an equivalent level of safety.

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 531; Pub. L. 116–283, div. G, title LVXXXIII [LXXXIII], §8318(a), Jan. 1, 2021, 134 Stat. 4700.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised sectionSource section (U.S. Code)
4305 46:1458

Section 4305 permits the Secretary to grant appropriate exemptions from the requirements of this chapter when recreational vessel safety will not be adversely affected.


Editorial Notes

Amendments

2021Pub. L. 116–283 substituted "Exemptions and equivalents" for "Exemptions" in section catchline, designated existing provisions as subsec. (a) and inserted heading, and added subsec. (b).

§4306. Federal preemption

Unless permitted by the Secretary under section 4305 of this title, a State or political subdivision of a State may not establish, continue in effect, or enforce a law or regulation establishing a recreational vessel or associated equipment performance or other safety standard or imposing a requirement for associated equipment (except insofar as the State or political subdivision may, in the absence of the Secretary's disapproval, regulate the carrying or use of marine safety articles to meet uniquely hazardous conditions or circumstances within the State) that is not identical to a regulation prescribed under section 4302 of this title.

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 531.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised sectionSource section (U.S. Code)
4306 46:1459

46:1460

Section 4306 establishes the Federal preemption of recreational boating standards and requirements. A State or a political subdivision may not establish, continue, or enforce a law or regulation establishing a performance or other safety standard that is not identical to a Federal standard. The Secretary may grant an exemption to a State when the State requirement is one that is needed to meet uniquely hazardous conditions or circumstances within a State. This is to provide uniform standards without the imposition of excessive special requirements by individual States.

§4307. Prohibited acts

(a) A person may not—

(1) manufacture, construct, assemble, sell or offer for sale, introduce or deliver for introduction into interstate commerce, or import into the United States, a recreational vessel, associated equipment, or component of the vessel or equipment unless—

(A)(i) it conforms with this chapter or a regulation prescribed under this chapter; and

(ii) it does not contain a defect which has been identified, in any communication to such person by the Secretary or the manufacturer of that vessel, equipment or component, as creating a substantial risk of personal injury to the public; or

(B) it is intended only for export and is so labeled, tagged, or marked on the recreational vessel or equipment, including any markings on the outside of the container in which it is to be exported;


(2) affix, attach, or display a seal, document, label, plate, insignia, or other device indicating or suggesting compliance with standards of the United States Government on, in, or in connection with, a recreational vessel or item of associated equipment that is false or misleading; or

(3) fail to provide a notification as required by this chapter or fail to exercise reasonable diligence in carrying out the notification and reporting requirements of this chapter.


(b) A person may not operate a vessel in violation of this chapter or a regulation prescribed under this chapter.

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 531; Pub. L. 98–557, §8(a), Oct. 30, 1984, 98 Stat. 2862.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised sectionSource section (U.S. Code)
4307(a) 46:1461(a)
4307(b) 46:1461(c)

Section 4307 prohibits certain acts in the manufacture and operation of recreational vessels.


Editorial Notes

Amendments

1984—Subsec. (a)(1)(A). Pub. L. 98–557 designated existing provisions as cl. (i), substituted "and" for "or", and added cl. (ii).

§4308. Termination of unsafe operation

If an official charged with the enforcement of this chapter observes a recreational vessel being operated without sufficient lifesaving or firefighting devices or in an overloaded or other unsafe condition (as defined in regulations prescribed under this chapter) and, in the judgment of the official, the operation creates an especially hazardous condition, the official may direct the individual in charge of the recreational vessel to take immediate and reasonable steps necessary for the safety of individuals on board the vessel, including directing the individual in charge to return to a mooring and to remain there until the situation creating the hazard is corrected or ended.

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 532; Pub. L. 99–307, §1(9), May 19, 1986, 100 Stat. 445.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised sectionSource section (U.S. Code)
4308 46:1462

Section 4308 authorizes an appropriate official to terminate the unsafe operation of recreational vessels. If the official observes the vessel being operated without sufficient lifesaving or firefighting devices or in an overloaded or other unsafe condition (as defined in regulations) and believes the operation creates an especially hazardous condition, the operator may be directed to take immediate and reasonable steps necessary for safety, including returning to a mooring and remaining there until the hazard is corrected or ended. This does not prevent the assessment of any applicable civil penalties nor the pursuing of appropriate criminal action.


Editorial Notes

Amendments

1986Pub. L. 99–307 substituted "individual in charge" for "operator" in two places.

§4309. Investigation and reporting

(a) A recreational vessel manufacturer to whom this chapter applies shall establish and maintain records and reports and provide information the Secretary may require to enable the Secretary to decide whether the manufacturer has acted or is acting in compliance with this chapter and regulations prescribed under this chapter. On request of an officer, employee, or agent authorized by the Secretary, a recreational vessel manufacturer shall permit the officer, employee, or agent to inspect, at reasonable times, factories or other facilities, and records related to deciding whether the manufacturer has acted or is acting in compliance with this chapter and regulations prescribed under this chapter.

(b) Information reported to or otherwise obtained by the Secretary or the representative of the Secretary under this section containing or related to a trade secret or other matter referred to in section 1905 of title 18, or authorized to be exempt from public disclosure by section 552(b) of title 5, is confidential under section 1905. However, on approval of the Secretary, the information may be disclosed to other officers, employees, or agents concerned with carrying out this chapter or when it is relevant in a proceeding under this chapter.

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 532.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised sectionSource section (U.S. Code)
4309 46:1463

Section 4309 requires the establishment and maintenance of certain records by manufacturers, and the inspection and access to these records by the Secretary, at reasonable times, so as to assure Federal enforcement officials that the manufacturer has acted or is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. It also provides protection for matters related to trade secrets and exemptions from public disclosure.

§4310. Repair and replacement of defects

(a) In this section, "associated equipment" includes only items or classes of associated equipment that the Secretary shall prescribe by regulation after deciding that the application of the requirements of this section to those items or classes of associated equipment is reasonable and in furtherance of this chapter.

(b) If a recreational vessel or associated equipment has left the place of manufacture and the recreational vessel manufacturer discovers or acquires information that the manufacturer decides, in the exercise of reasonable and prudent judgment, indicates that a recreational vessel or associated equipment subject to an applicable regulation prescribed under section 4302 of this title either fails to comply with the regulation, or contains a defect that creates a substantial risk of personal injury to the public, the manufacturer shall provide notification of the defect or failure of compliance as provided by subsections (c) and (d) of this section within a reasonable time after the manufacturer has discovered the defect.

(c)(1) The notification required by subsection (b) of this section shall be given to the following persons in the following manner:

(A) by first class mail or by certified mail to the first purchaser for other than resale, except that the requirement for notification of the first purchaser shall be satisfied if the recreational vessel manufacturer exercises reasonable diligence in establishing and maintaining a list of those purchasers and their current addresses, and sends the required notice to each person on that list at the address appearing on the list.

(B) by first class mail or by certified mail to subsequent purchasers if known to the manufacturer.

(C) by first class mail or by certified mail or other more expeditious means to the dealers and distributors of the recreational vessels or associated equipment.


(2) The notification required by subsection (b) of this section is required to be given only for a defect or failure of compliance discovered by the recreational vessel manufacturer within a reasonable time after the manufacturer has discovered the defect or failure, except that the manufacturer's duty of notification under paragraph (1)(A) and (B) of this subsection applies only to a defect or failure of compliance discovered by the manufacturer within one of the following appropriate periods:

(A) if a recreational vessel or associated equipment required by regulation to have a date of certification affixed, 10 years from the date of certification.

(B) if a recreational vessel or associated equipment not required by regulation to have a date of certification affixed, 10 years from the date of manufacture.


(d) The notification required by subsection (b) of this section shall contain a clear description of the defect or failure to comply, an evaluation of the hazard reasonably related to the defect or failure, a statement of the measures to correct the defect or failure, and an undertaking by the recreational vessel manufacturer to take those measures only at the manufacturer's cost and expense.

(e) Each recreational vessel manufacturer shall provide the Secretary with a copy of all notices, bulletins, and other communications to dealers and distributors of that manufacturer, and to purchasers of recreational vessels or associated equipment of that manufacturer, about a defect related to safety in the recreational vessels or associated equipment, and any failure to comply with the regulation or order applicable to the recreational vessels or associated equipment. The Secretary may publish or otherwise disclose to the public information in the notices or other information the Secretary has that the Secretary considers will assist in carrying out this chapter. However, the Secretary may disclose any information that contains or relates to a trade secret only if the Secretary decides that the information is necessary to carry out this chapter.

(f) If, through testing, inspection, investigation, or examination of reports, the Secretary decides that a recreational vessel or associated equipment to which this chapter applies contains a defect related to safety or fails to comply with an applicable regulation prescribed under this chapter and notification under this chapter is appropriate, the Secretary shall notify the recreational vessel manufacturer of the defect or failure. The notice shall contain the findings of the Secretary and shall include a synopsis of the information on which they are based. The manufacturer may then provide the notification required by this chapter to the persons designated in this chapter or dispute the Secretary's decision. If disputed, the Secretary shall provide the manufacturer with an opportunity to present views and establish that there is no such defect or failure. When the Secretary considers it to be in the public interest, the Secretary may publish notice of the proceeding in the Federal Register and provide interested persons, including the National Boating Safety Advisory Committee, with an opportunity to comment. If, after presentation by the manufacturer, the Secretary decides that the recreational vessel or associated equipment contains a defect related to safety or fails to comply with an applicable regulation, the Secretary may direct the manufacturer to provide the notifications specified in this chapter.

(g) The Secretary may prescribe regulations to carry out this section, including the establishment of procedures that require dealers and distributors to assist manufacturers in obtaining information required by this section. A regulation prescribed under this subsection does not relieve a manufacturer of any obligation imposed by this section.

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 532; Pub. L. 107–295, title IV, §433, Nov. 25, 2002, 116 Stat. 2129; Pub. L. 115–282, title VI, §601(c)(4)(B)(ii), Dec. 4, 2018, 132 Stat. 4290.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised sectionSource section (U.S. Code)
4310 46:1464

Section 4310 imposes certain requirements on a recreational vessel and associated equipment manufacturer to provide notification of a defect or the failure of compliance after a manufacturer discovers the defect or failure. This section spells out the procedure for notification and who shall be notified. It assures the public of notification while protecting the manufacturer from the potential of damaging and inaccurate disclosures.


Editorial Notes

Amendments

2018—Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 115–282 substituted "Advisory Committee" for "Advisory Council".

2002—Subsec. (c)(1)(A) to (C). Pub. L. 107–295, §433(2), inserted "by first class mail or" before "by certified mail".

Subsec. (c)(2)(A), (B). Pub. L. 107–295, §433(1), substituted "10" for "5".

§4311. Penalties and injunctions

(a) A person willfully operating a recreational vessel in violation of this chapter or a regulation prescribed under this chapter shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

(b)(1) A person violating section 4307(a) of this title is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not more than $5,000, except that the maximum civil penalty may be not more than $250,000 for a related series of violations.

(2) If the Secretary decides under section 4310(f) that a recreational vessel or associated equipment contains a defect related to safety or fails to comply with an applicable regulation and directs the manufacturer to provide the notifications specified in this chapter, any person, including a director, officer or executive employee of a corporation, who knowingly and willfully fails to comply with that order, may be fined not more than $10,000, imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

(3) When a corporation violates section 4307(a), or fails to comply with the Secretary's decision under section 4310(f), any director, officer, or executive employee of the corporation who knowingly and willfully ordered, or knowingly and willfully authorized, a violation is individually liable to the Government for a penalty under paragraphs (1) or (2) in addition to the corporation. However, the director, officer, or executive employee is not liable individually under this subsection if the director, officer, or executive employee can demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that—

(A) the order or authorization was issued on the basis of a decision, in exercising reasonable and prudent judgment, that the defect or the nonconformity with standards and regulations constituting the violation would not cause or constitute a substantial risk of personal injury to the public; and

(B) at the time of the order or authorization, the director, officer, or executive employee advised the Secretary in writing of acting under this subparagraph and subparagraph (A).


(c) A person violating section 4312(b) of this title is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not more than—

(1) $100 for the first offense;

(2) $250 for the second offense; and

(3) $500 for any subsequent offense.


(d) A person violating any other provision of this chapter or other regulation prescribed under this chapter is liable to the Government for a civil penalty of not more than $1,000. If the violation involves the operation of a vessel, the vessel also is liable in rem for the penalty.

(e) When a civil penalty of not more than $200 has been assessed under this chapter, the Secretary may refer the matter of collection of the penalty directly to the United States magistrate judge of the jurisdiction in which the person liable may be found for collection procedures under supervision of the district court and under an order issued by the court delegating this authority under section 636(b) of title 28.

(f) The district courts of the United States have jurisdiction to restrain a violation of this chapter, or to restrain the sale, offer for sale, introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce, or importation into the United States, of a recreational vessel or associated equipment that the court decides does not conform to safety standards of the Government. A civil action under this subsection shall be brought by filing a petition by the Attorney General for the Government. When practicable, the Secretary shall give notice to a person against whom an action for injunctive relief is contemplated and provide the person with an opportunity to present views and, except for a knowing and willful violation, shall provide the person with a reasonable opportunity to achieve compliance. The failure to give notice and provide the opportunity does not preclude the granting of appropriate relief by the district court.

(g) A person is not subject to a penalty under this chapter if the person—

(1) establishes that the person did not have reason to know, in exercising reasonable care, that a recreational vessel or associated equipment does not conform with the applicable safety standards of the Government or that the person was not advised by the Secretary or the manufacturer of that vessel, equipment or component that the vessel, equipment or component contains a defect which creates a substantial risk of personal injury to the public; or

(2) holds a certificate issued by the manufacturer of that recreational vessel or associated equipment to the effect that the recreational vessel or associated equipment conforms to all applicable recreational vessel safety standards of the Government, unless the person knows or reasonably should have known that the recreational vessel or associated equipment does not so conform.


(h) Compliance with this chapter or standards, regulations, or orders prescribed under this chapter does not relieve a person from liability at common law or under State law.

(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 534; Pub. L. 98–557, §8(b), (c), Oct. 30, 1984, 98 Stat. 2862; Pub. L. 101–650, title III, §321, Dec. 1, 1990, 104 Stat. 5117; Pub. L. 108–293, title IV, §406, Aug. 9, 2004, 118 Stat. 1043; Pub. L. 109–241, title IX, §901(e), July 11, 2006, 120 Stat. 564; Pub. L. 116–283, div. G, title LVXXXIII [LXXXIII], §8316(b), Jan. 1, 2021, 134 Stat. 4699.)

Amendment by Pub. L. 116–283

Amendment by Pub. L. 116–283 effective 90 days after Jan. 1, 2021, unless the Commandant of the Coast Guard, prior to the date that is 90 days after Jan. 1, 2021, determines that the use requirement enacted in section 8316(a) of Pub. L. 116–283 (amending section 4312 of this title) would not promote recreational boating safety. See section 8316(c) of Pub. L. 116–283, set out as an Effective Date of 2021 Amendment note below.

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised sectionSource section (U.S. Code)
4311(a) 46:1483
4311(b) 46:1484(a)
4311(c) 46:1484(b)
4311(d) 46:1484(d)
4311(e) 46:1485
4311(f) 46:1461(b)
4311(g) 46:1489

Section 4311 provides penalties for violating any of the provisions of this chapter or a regulation prescribed under this chapter. For a willful violation the penalty is a criminal fine; all other penalties are civil in nature.

A person violating any of the prohibited acts specified in section 4307(a)(1) is subject to a maximum civil penalty that can go as high as a $100,000 for a related series of violations. However, the section provides for no liability for good faith reliance on certifications of compliance by others within the chain of responsibility and for defects that are not within an individual's responsibility or control.

This section also contains an alternate procedure for the collection of a civil penalty of not more than $200 through a U.S. magistrate in lieu of the civil penalty procedures of the Coast Guard. It also directs the district courts of the United States to restrain the sale, offer for sale, introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce, or importation of a recreational vessel or associated equipment that does not conform to applicable safety standards. Finally, compliance with this chapter or standards, regulations, or orders does not relieve a person from liability at common law or under State law.


Editorial Notes

Amendments

2021—Subsecs. (c) to (h). Pub. L. 116–283, §8316(b), added subsec. (c) and redesignated former subsecs. (c) to (g) as (d) to (h), respectively.

2006—Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 109–241 inserted a space after "4307(a)".

2004—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 108–293 amended subsec. (b) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (b) read as follows: "A person violating section 4307(a)(1) of this title is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not more than $2,000, except that the maximum civil penalty may be not more than $100,000 for a related series of violations. When a corporation violates section 4307(a)(1), any director, officer, or executive employee of the corporation who knowingly and willfully ordered, or knowingly and willfully authorized, a violation is individually liable to the Government for the penalty, in addition to the corporation. However, the director, officer, or executive employee is not liable individually under this subsection if the director, officer, or executive employee can demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that—

"(1) the order or authorization was issued on the basis of a decision, in exercising reasonable and prudent judgment, that the defect or the nonconformity with standards and regulations constituting the violation would not cause or constitute a substantial risk of personal injury to the public; and

"(2) at the time of the order or authorization, the director, officer, or executive employee advised the Secretary in writing of acting under this clause and clause (1) of this subsection."

1984—Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 98–557, §8(b), inserted "defect or the" before "nonconformity".

Subsec. (f)(1). Pub. L. 98–557, §8(c), inserted provisions relating to advice by the Secretary or manufacturer of the vessel, equipment or component respecting defects creating substantial risk of personal injury to the public.


Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries

Effective Date of 2021 Amendment

Pub. L. 116–283, div. G, title LVXXXIII [LXXXIII], §8316(c), Jan. 1, 2021, 134 Stat. 4700, provided that: "The amendments made in subsections (a) and (b) [amending this section and section 4312 of this title] shall take effect 90 days after the date of the enactment of this section [Jan. 1, 2021], unless the Commandant [of the Coast Guard], prior to the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this section, determines that the use requirement enacted in subsection (a) would not promote recreational boating safety."

Change of Name

"United States magistrate judge" substituted for "United States magistrate" in subsec. (d) pursuant to section 321 of Pub. L. 101–650, set out as a note under section 631 of Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.

§4312. Engine cut-off switches

(a) Installation Requirement.—A manufacturer, distributor, or dealer that installs propulsion machinery and associated starting controls on a covered recreational vessel shall equip such vessel with an engine cut-off switch and engine cut-off switch link that meet American Boat and Yacht Council Standard A–33, as in effect on the date of the enactment of the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–282).

(b) Use Requirement.—

(1) In general.—An individual operating a covered recreational vessel shall use an engine cut-off switch link while operating on plane or above displacement speed.

(2) Exceptions.—The requirement under paragraph (1) shall not apply if—

(A) the main helm of the covered vessel is installed within an enclosed cabin; or

(B) the vessel does not have an engine cut-off switch and is not required to have one under subsection (a).


(c) Education on Cut-off Switches.—The Commandant of the Coast Guard, through the National Boating Safety Advisory Committee established under section 15105, may initiate a boating safety program on the use and benefits of cut-off switches for recreational vessels.

(d) Availability of Standard for Inspection.—

(1) In general.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this section, the Commandant shall transmit American Boat and Yacht Council Standard A–33, as in effect on the date of enactment of the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–282), to—

(A) the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives;

(B) the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate; and

(C) the Coast Guard Office of Design and Engineering Standards; and

(D) the National Archives and Records Administration.


(2) Availability.—The standard submitted under paragraph (1) shall be kept on file and available for public inspection at such Coast Guard office and the National Archives and Records Administration.


(e) Definitions.—In this section:

(1) Covered recreational vessel.—The term "covered recreational vessel" means a recreational vessel that is—

(A) less than 26 feet overall in length; and

(B) capable of developing 115 pounds or more of static thrust.


(2) Dealer.—The term "dealer" means any person who is engaged in the sale and distribution of recreational vessels or associated equipment to purchasers whom the seller in good faith believes to be purchasing any such vessel or associated equipment for purposes other than resale.

(3) Distributor.—The term "distributor" means any person engaged in the sale and distribution of recreational vessels and associated equipment for the purposes of resale.

(4) Manufacturer.—The term "equipment manufacturer" means any person engaged in the manufacture, construction, or assembly of recreational vessels or associated equipment, or the importation of recreational vessels into the United States for subsequent sale.

(5) Propulsion machinery.—The term "propulsion machinery" means a self-contained propulsion system, and includes, but is not limited to, inboard engines, outboard motors, and sterndrive engines.

(6) Static thrust.—The term "static thrust" means the forward or backwards thrust developed by propulsion machinery while stationary.

(Added Pub. L. 115–282, title V, §503(a), Dec. 4, 2018, 132 Stat. 4270; amended Pub. L. 116–283, div. G, title LVXXXIII [LXXXIII], §8316(a), div. G, title LVXXXV [LXXXV], §8507(a)(2), Jan. 1, 2021, 134 Stat. 4699, 4752.)

Amendment by Pub. L. 116–283

Amendment by section 8316(a) of Pub. L. 116–283 effective 90 days after Jan. 1, 2021, unless the Commandant of the Coast Guard, prior to the date that is 90 days after Jan. 1, 2021, determines that the use requirement enacted in such section 8316(a) would not promote recreational boating safety. See section 8316(c) of Pub. L. 116–283, set out as an Effective Date of 2021 Amendment note under section 4311 of this title.


Editorial Notes

References in Text

The date of enactment of Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, referred to in subsecs. (a) and (d)(1), is the date of enactment of Pub. L. 115–282, which was approved Dec. 4, 2018.

The date of the enactment of this section, referred to in subsec. (c)(1), is the date of enactment of Pub. L. 115–282, which was approved Dec. 4, 2018.

Amendments

2021Pub. L. 116–283, §8507(a)(2), substituted "Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–282)" for "Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017" in two places.

Subsecs. (b) to (e). Pub. L. 116–283, §8316(a), added subsec. (b) and redesignated former subsecs. (b) to (d) as (c) to (e), respectively.


Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries

Effective Date of 2021 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 116–283 effective 90 days after Jan. 1, 2021, unless the Commandant of the Coast Guard, prior to the date that is 90 days after Jan. 1, 2021, determines that the use requirement enacted in section 8316(a) of Pub. L. 116–283 (amending this section) would not promote recreational boating safety. See section 8316(c) of Pub. L. 116–283, set out as a note under section 4311 of this title.

Effective Date

Pub. L. 115–282, title V, §503(c), Dec. 4, 2018, 132 Stat. 4271, provided that: "Section 4312 of title 46, United States Code, as amended [probably should be "enacted"] by this section, shall take effect one year after the date of the enactment of this Act [Dec. 4, 2018]."