When Good Boats Go Bad: FL's Derelict Vessels - A Case Study in Prevention and Legal Response

Derelict vessels (DVs) are environmental, access, and human safety threats. Some jurisdictions have implemented voluntary turn-in programs (VTIP) as preventative measures attempting to lessen the impact of DVs. Florida has taken a different and novel approach, recently passing a law prohibiting vessels “at risk of becoming derelict” from being upon the waters of the state. This session will explore the new law and what qualifies as “at risk,” as well as how the state is implementing the law’s provisions, including creating a test for determining if a vessel has an “effective means of propulsion for safe navigation” (one of the “at risk” law’s criteria). In addition, in 2017, the state stopped investigating all derelict vessels for nearly six months while implementing new procedures to ensure vessel owners’ Constitutional due process rights were not being violated. Why was this drastic action necessary? How has the state program changed? What lessons are there for other jurisdictions from Florida’s lessons learned? This session will answer these questions.

Brandy Elliott

Senior Attorney; Boating and Waterways Advisor, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Brandy E. Elliott is a passionate advocate for safe and lawful boating in Florida. She is a Florida attorney whose primary responsibility is advising the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (Commission) Division of Law Enforcement, Boating and Waterways Section. She is, in fact, the State’s only attorney advising legal issues related to boating. Among her other responsibilities, Brandy served as the legal process expert for crafting the State’s standardized procedures to ensure due process in the removal and destruction of derelict vessels, and with Commission policy experts, trained law enforcement officers and local government authorities on these processes throughout the entire State. 

Brandy is legal advisor to the State’s statutorily created Boating Advisory Council. She has worked with boating associations, lobbyists, and public officials crafting boating legislation and working for its successful passage by the Florida legislature for many years.

Brandy has been practicing law for 11 years and has been with the Commission for nine. She is also a trial and appellate attorney, handling all forms of litigation for the Commission. She has both a juris doctorate and a Masters in Applied American Politics and Policy from Florida State University.

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