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MI Legislature Passes and Governor Whitmer Signs Legislation
that Empowers the MI DNR and Local Units of
Government to Limit Maximum Watercraft Speeds
Responding to an onslaught of complaints from waterfront property owners regarding unsafe conditions and damage inflicted upon moored boats, docks, and other shoreline infrastructure equipment by high energy wakes created by boaters operating at excessive speeds, the state legislature has passed and Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed legislation that empowers the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as well as local units of government to limit the maximum speed of vessels operating upon the waters of Michigan. Both the frequency and severity of wake inflicted waterfront property damage as well as concerns for public safety have significantly increased over the course of the past few boating seasons due primarily to the record high water levels that are currently being experienced by most inland waters within the Great Lakes region.
The language of Michigan House Bill 5401 (now Public Act 70 of 2020) that became state law on April 2, 2020 reads in part:
(3) Upon receipt of a resolution by the governing body of a local unit of government having jurisdiction over waters of this state requesting a reduction in the maximum speed limit on those waters, the department, pursuant to sections 80108 and 80109 to 80113, may establish a maximum speed limit not to exceed 40 miles per hour on those waters.
(4) Upon receipt of a resolution of the governing body of a county or municipality requesting a reduction in the maximum vessel speed limit to protect life and property during emergency conditions, the department, the county emergency management coordinator, or the county sheriff may establish a temporary reduced maximum vessel speed limit on waters of this state located in the county or municipality. In that case, the department, emergency management coordinator, or sheriff, respectively, shall do all of the following:
(a) Specify a maximum fine for violating the temporary speed limit. The maximum fine shall not be greater than $100.00 for a first violation of a temporary speed limit established by that authority or $500.00 for a second or subsequent violation.
(b) Notify the other authorities authorized to issue temporary speed limits under this subsection of the temporary speed limit.
(c) Post the temporary speed limit, the maximum fine, and a description of the affected waters on its website.
(d) Subject to section 80159, place buoys sufficient to advise vessel operators of the
temporary speed limit.
To read House Enrolled Bill 5401 (now Public Act 70 of 2020) as passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor in its entirety, click here.