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Bill prohibiting wake surfing in certain public waters could soon become state law

A bill making its way through the Alabama Legislature would regulate wake surfing throughout the entirety of Alabama’s vast public waters.

Senate Bill 281, sponsored by State Sens. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) and Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills), would prohibit wake surfing in a public body of water that is less than 50 acres in size. Additionally, wake surfing would be forbidden in any portion of public water where the width of the portion is less than 400 feet.

Wake surfing would also be disallowed within 200 feet of a shoreline, dock, pier, boathouse or any other structure.

After a full year upon the bill’s enactment, a first-time offense of the law would be considered a Class B misdemeanor and carry a fine of at least $150. A subsequent violation would carry a fine of at least $250 and could result in the individual losing certain boating privileges for the rest of the calendar year.

The full language of the bill can be found here.

Last week, Senate Bill 281 passed the Senate by a vote of 26-0 with nine abstentions. The bill currently sits in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, chaired by State Rep. Allen Treadaway (R-Morris).

Treadaway tells Yellowhammer News that the he has not fielded much feedback from the public concerning opposition or support of the bill. He says those in favor of the bill cite instances where boats have driven in close proximity to private docks.

However, Treadaway says that committee members have asked for the names of lakes that the bill would affect. Committee members could possibly offer amendments adjusting the size of the public bodies of water where wake surfing would be prohibited, Treadaway says.

The bill is set to be considered by the committee at 9:00 Wednesday morning. The committee hearing can be livestreamed on the legislature’s website.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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