RS 34:851.27     

§851.27. Local regulations prohibited; exceptions; speed limits

            A. Through the passage of this Part, the state reserves to itself, through the commission, the right to regulate the operation and to establish the minimum equipment requirements of vessels and motorboats. Except as provided in Subsection B of this Section, R.S. 38:2758, R.S. 34:3269(13), and R.S. 33:1236.12, all political subdivisions of this state are expressly prohibited from regulating watercraft in any respect, including but not limited to their operation, minimum equipment requirements, registration (with or without a fee), or inspection.

            B.(1) The governing authority of any parish or municipality may establish and post speed limits on waterways within its jurisdiction with the exception of the Mississippi River, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Such speed limits, if established, shall be posted along the affected waterway.

            (2) Parish ordinances shall apply throughout the parish unless there is a conflict with an ordinance passed by a municipality. In that instance, the municipal ordinance shall prevail.

            (3) Speed limits established under this Section shall be enforced by the sheriffs, local law enforcement officers, state police and by permanent status wildlife agents and duly commissioned wildlife agents and officers who shall have the power to make arrests for purposes of such enforcement.

            (4) The governing authority of any parish or municipality may establish penalties for violation of such ordinances in accordance with law.

            (5)(a) Except as provided in Subparagraph (B)(5)(b), the provisions of this Subsection shall not apply to commercial or passenger vessels operating on the waters of the Mississippi River or of the outlets of the river to the Gulf of Mexico.

            (b) There are hereby created speed zones on the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet in St. Bernard Parish which shall be one mile on both sides of the intersections with the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet of Bayou La Loutre, Bayou Yscloskey, and Bayou Dupre, in which speed zones vessels whose draft is greater than twenty feet shall proceed, navigate, or transit at the minimum speed necessary to insure safety.

            (6) Repealed by Acts 1997, No. 1116, §2.

            (7) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the operation of all vessels and motorboats shall be subject to state law and local ordinance prohibiting trespass or unauthorized entry. Such state and local laws shall be enforced by state and local law enforcement agencies, including sheriffs, and by wildlife agents duly authorized to perform enforcement functions.

            (8) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the local governing authority of the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Tammany may regulate or prohibit watercraft operating within two hundred fifty feet of any structures on any water bottoms in Lake Pontchartrain leased by said local governing authority from the state for recreational purposes.

            (9) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the governing authority of Jefferson Parish and its municipalities shall have the authority to regulate the operation of air boats within the parish. This authority shall extend to the establishment of minimum requirements for commercial or recreational use, including equipment, speed limits, issuing air boat permits and inspection, providing for licenses and air boat permit fees, defining violations and assessing penalties, and other requirements. The regulations shall be enforced by the sheriff and local law enforcement officers and may be enforced by state police or commissioned wildlife agents and those officers who shall have the power to make arrests for purposes of such enforcement. Any regulations or requirements established pursuant to this Paragraph shall not be less stringent or impair the authority of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries provided for in R.S. 34:851.1 et seq. Any such regulations shall be specifically limited in effect to operation of an air boat in Jefferson Parish and shall not be deemed to affect the validity or invalidity of operation of an air boat in any other parish.

            C. In addition to speed limits established by any governing authority of any parish or municipality under the provisions of this Section, there are hereby established certain "no-wake" zones where each vessel shall operate at bare steerage speed, the slowest speed the vessel can travel while allowing the operator to maintain directional control of the vessel to produce the minimum water surface turbulence. The "no-wake" zones are established on all waterways within three hundred feet of any of the following facilities:

            (1) A boat launch accessible by the public.

            (2) A docking facility adjacent to a boat launch accessible by the public.

            D. The commission shall adopt rules and regulations establishing a uniform system of "no-wake" zone signs. Local municipal and parish authorities in their respective jurisdictions shall place and maintain such "no-wake" zone signs as they may deem necessary to carry out the rules and regulations of the commission. All such "no-wake" zone signs hereafter erected by local municipal and parish authorities shall conform to such rules and regulations adopted by the commission.

            Acts 1984, No. 288, §1; Acts 1986, No. 61, §2; Acts 1986, No. 315, §1, eff. June 30, 1986; Acts 1988, No. 864, §1; Acts 1993, No. 709, §2; Acts 1997, No. 217, §1, eff. June 16, 1997; Acts 1997, No. 1116, §2; Acts 2004, No. 238, §1; Acts 2005, No. 116, §1, eff. June 21, 2005; Acts 2006, No. 675, §1; Acts 2011, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 10, §1; Acts 2011, No. 113, §1; Acts 2018, No. 318, §1.