ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) — Hurricane Sally hit the Gulf two years ago, leaving boat owners with lost and stolen boats. Alabama State Senator Chris Elliot proposed a bill for boat titling that he says will help prevent boat theft and hold owners of derelict boats accountable.
That bill passed in the 2021 legislative session. It goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024.
“Vessel titling, you’ll be able to determine who owned the boat, and that means who’s responsible for the derelict vessel that may be in someone’s front yard, sunk in front of a house, or is blocking in a marina,” Elliot said.
But not every vessel in Alabama needs a title.
“All existing vessels are grandfathered in,” said Elliot. “This does not apply to vessels under 18 feet or under 75 horse power.”
Another issue boat owners run into is theft. According to Elliot, without vessel titling, you may never catch the thief.
“There are a couple of things, it really will help with stolen vessels, identifying stolen vessels,” Elliot said. “We have a lot of instances where vessels are stolen, taken to Florida and then titled for the first time as if they were never titled before because we didn’t have it in Alabama.”
There are currently 34 states in the U.S. that require some boats to have a title. Starting Jan. 1 2024, Alabama will be the 35th state.