MO bill to lower boating fines may increase number of tickets

Stuart Jantz takes out his red SX 24 pontoon boat Wednesday on Wappapello Lake. Jantz thinks the decision to reduce fine amounts could result in more tickets and in turn teach boaters to be more safe on the lake.
Stuart Jantz takes out his red SX 24 pontoon boat Wednesday on Wappapello Lake. Jantz thinks the decision to reduce fine amounts could result in more tickets and in turn teach boaters to be more safe on the lake.

LAKE WAPPAPELLO, MO (KFVS) - A bill sitting on Gov. Eric Greitens desk could lower the cost of boating fines. It lowers the fine for speeding or life jacket violations from $137 to $25.

The bill's sponsor says law enforcement rarely issued those fines because they were so high.

According to State Trooper J.T. Wilson, the Missouri State Highway Patrol will be out in full force this boating season.

Trooper Wilson advises many boaters take stock of the supplies they will while on the water. He said every boat also needs a horn or whistle and a working fire extinguisher.

Wilson also recommends making sure your boat is in working order before taking it out on the water.

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"Saturday warmer weather hit," he said. "We had a boat out on Wappapello they didn't check their boat before, they had a hole in the bottom of the boat. They ended up sinking the boat. Luckily they did have enough life jackets but the boat did sink to the bottom of the lake and they weren't able to get that."

Stuart Jantz has lived on Lake Wappapello for three years and says he stays safe on the water by being aware of his surroundings and stocking plenty of life jackets on board.

"When I'm going down the lake, it's not just me watching this boat," Jantz said. "Well I'm watching that boat seeing if they're having a problem, see if they need a tow if somebody has got a flag up, somebody's diving out there. You've got to watch for everything."

Jantz thinks law enforcement will be more likely to give tickets if fines are lowered and that it sends a different message than a warning.

"You know I pay a $200 fine for having people out without life jackets, I won't do it twice," he said. "And that is all we need. Give us a kick in the rear end and we'll get it right."

Trevor Totten runs a marina on the lake and is also part of the Water Safety Council. One of the most common laws he sees people break is not staying within the rails on a pontoon.

"I've seen state patrol write a lot of tickets for people wanting to ride on the front or ride on the back," said Totten. "Then just other ones like swimming in marinas. The Army Corp has a regulation now, you're not allowed to swim in them which makes sense. Every marina has electric lines in the water."

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