Pennsylvania appeals court nixes random boat inspections

Written by The Associated Press | Aug 23, 2017 10:58 AM


(Harrisburg) -- The state's Superior Court says the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission can no longer randomly inspect boats if there's no indication the people aboard are doing anything illegal.

The commission tells WHTM-TV it will likely appeal Monday's ruling, which overturned the 2016 conviction of a boater on Lake Erie.

A waterways conservation officer who did a random check of the boat found it didn't have one flotation device for each person aboard. The boat's pilot was fined $75 and given a life vest so all aboard would have one, and allowed to leave.

The appeals court ruled that violates the 4th Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Commission executive director John Arway says the inspections are an important part of the agency's strategy to keep boaters safe.

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