DFW ticket for chartering a trip by sharing costs on personal boat.

ShadowX

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A buddy of mine just got ticketed from the DFW for running a "charter" when one of the passengers claimed they split the costs of fuel/bait during a stop by the DFW. It seems like the DFW are targeting recreational fisherman again. Its not clear if the DFW is correct given how the current laws are written.

I looked up some of the rules and it states there has to be four or more passengers, but this is only on non-navigable waters (waters which cannot be navigated to the sea or to another state). They were in the ocean fishing, so you would think the federal guidelines should apply. Based on the federal guidelines, it says "12 passengers with no crew and a written charter contract. The passenger limit is dropped to six when those passengers are paying and are aboard an uninspected passenger vessel of less than 100 gross registered tons."

He has a small boat and less than four people including him. You would think the DFW made a mistake in the ticket given that he had less than four passengers and even if he had four, the federal requirement of 6 passengers should apply.

He is not sure if he should fight this given how the law is written. Does anyone heard of similar stories and tickets by DFW? I saw some old threads back in 2007, but didn't want to resurrect those old threads. Did the DFW make a mistake with this ticket based on the law and jurisdiction?

There was no written contact among the passengers. They were going on a trip and split costs after the trip. They were friends/family and not strangers found on web sites. The captain split all costs equally on all the passengers and the captain. No profits were made on the trip.


California web site:
"Power vessel operators carrying four or more passengers for-hire (any type of compensation) on non-navigable waters (waters which cannot be navigated to the sea or to another state) are required to obtain and maintain a valid For-Hire Vessel Operator's License.

Vessel operators carrying passengers on navigable waters (waters under Federal jurisdiction) are required to obtain and maintain a United States Coast Guard Captain’s License."

The Log (2017):

Federal Regulations of For-Hire Vessels:

Recreational vessel operators, per Coast Guard provisions, are allowed to carry up to 12 passengers with no crew and a written charter contract. The passenger limit is dropped to six when those passengers are paying and are aboard an uninspected passenger vessel of less than 100 gross registered tons. Vessels must be U.S.-built or have a MARAD waiver aboard.
 

ShadowX

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I wasn't there so I'm taking the word from the guy who was ticketed.

Basically the DFW stopped boat for inspection and asked one of the passengers if he split cost for the trip. The guy answered honestly that they split the fuel and bait costs equally. As a result, they ticketed the owner of the boat for running a charter.

There was no illegal fish on board and they complied to all the fishing rules. The only ticket was for running a "charter" because they split costs. If you look up the old threads, others have been cited before for the same reasons in the past.
 
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MYNomad

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Can you post a pic of the citation (blurring out the identifying info)?

I am not sure you cited the correct authority. My understanding is that the federal law, as enforced by the coast guard, doesn't have a passenger count component -- one paying passenger is enough to make it a vessel for hire and trigger all of the licensing requirements.

The USCG routinely (and discretely) ask passengers on a boarded vessel how they know the captain and if they are sharing costs. Nothing my crew has ever said resulting in any further questioning.

That said, sharing costs is permissible, as long as it is not a condition of passage. I don't know what the case law says about that, but I would be reluctant to collect up front, or even discuss it in such a way that it could be construed (under cross examination) as a condition. And the payment may only cover costs of the voyage (so no insurance, dockage, loan payments, etc.).
As a practical matter, a pre-existing social relationship between captain and crew should put an end to it. If your buddy was really legit, he ought to be able to get the DA to drop the charges (though having a real lawyer might help).
 

ShadowX

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Just be warned. The DFW is out there ticketing people for that reason so watch what you or your passengers say to them if the question is asked. Its not like we don't already have enough regulations to weed through, but this one just seems unfair. I understand Charter boats pay a lot for their license and need to protect them from profiteers, but that is obviously not the case here.
 
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ShadowX

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Can you post a pic of the citation (blurring out the identifying info)?

I am not sure you cited the correct authority. My understanding is that the federal law, as enforced by the coast guard, doesn't have a passenger count component -- one paying passenger is enough to make it a vessel for hire and trigger all of the licensing requirements.

The USCG routinely (and discretely) ask passengers on a boarded vessel how they know the captain and if they are sharing costs. Nothing my crew has ever said resulting in any further questioning.

That said, sharing costs is permissible, as long as it is not a condition of passage. I don't know what the case law says about that, but I would be reluctant to collect up front, or even discuss it in such a way that it could be construed (under cross examination) as a condition. And the payment may only cover costs of the voyage (so no insurance, dockage, loan payments, etc.).
As a practical matter, a pre-existing social relationship between captain and crew should put an end to it. If your buddy was really legit, he ought to be able to get the DA to drop the charges (though having a real lawyer might help).
The definition used USCG NVIC 07-94, 46 USC 210 is so vague that any trip would be considered a for hire trip if you have passengers. The "consideration is contributed as a condition of carriage whether directly or indirectly" is as vague as you can get. Even buying the guy a hamburger is a "consideration" even if you indirectly passed that burger to another person and they hand it to the boat owner. I had to edit this, but I found the definition for "consideration" and that doesn't include sharing costs as long as its "voluntary".

I doubt he would hire a lawyer. The cost to fight it would be way more than the ticket cost.

Its best to tell the DFW that the owner pays for everything and shut up afterwards.



USCG NVIC 07-94, 46 USC 210

Passenger for Hire - Passenger for whom a consideration is contributed as a condition of carriage whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, charterer, operator, agent, or any other person interested in the vessel is a passenger for hire. 46 USC 2101 (21a)


(5) “consideration” means an economic benefit, inducement, right, or profit including pecuniary payment accruing to an individual, person, or entity, but not including a voluntary sharing of the actual expenses of the voyage, by monetary contribution or donation of fuel, food, beverage, or other supplies.
 
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MYNomad

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I understand Charter boats pay a lot for their license and need to protect them from profiteers, but that is obviously not the case here.
What the hell is a profiteer, anyway? A capitalist? Capitalism made our country great. Is it any coincidence that those who hate our country want to do away with capitalism? I am proud to be a capitalist and a profiteer -- I just wish I could make more profit but the competition is relentless.

In any event, the goal of protecting one group against competition from another, at the expense of consumers everywhere should be the last reason for any license requirement (but no doubt, the licensed guys are the ones who squawk enough to get the law enforced). For a long time, taxi-cabs had a monopoly but look how much better the world is for everyone (besides taxi drivers) with the elimination of that law. The truth is states have over licensed everything, with the result that the consumer pays more for shittier service. Why should a barber be license? Why should the government figure out whom to license (if we need a license for "safety", why not just require $5M insurance and let the insurers figure out whose risk is worth underwriting)? This excessive regulation has to end, and the sooner it does the better off we all (as consumers and as guys wanting to start a business) will be.
 

invictus

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What the hell is a profiteer, anyway? A capitalist? Capitalism made our country great. Is it any coincidence that those who hate our country want to do away with capitalism? I am proud to be a capitalist and a profiteer -- I just wish I could make more profit but the competition is relentless.

In any event, the goal of protecting one group against competition from another, at the expense of consumers everywhere should be the last reason for any license requirement (but no doubt, the licensed guys are the ones who squawk enough to get the law enforced). For a long time, taxi-cabs had a monopoly but look how much better the world is for everyone (besides taxi drivers) with the elimination of that law. The truth is states have over licensed everything, with the result that the consumer pays more for shittier service. Why should a barber be license? Why should the government figure out whom to license (if we need a license for "safety", why not just require $5M insurance and let the insurers figure out whose risk is worth underwriting)? This excessive regulation has to end, and the sooner it does the better off we all (as consumers and as guys wanting to start a business) will be.
I believe an old timey Profiteer would be a smuggler or pirate/privateer.

be curious to know the exact section on the ticket.
 

I hate seals

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Glad to see the DFW finally making moves against illegal charters. Your pal doesn't sound like one of them, but I can see why if he is taking money for the trip then it's not just some buds going fishing. The way we did it on the old boat was I took my friends fishing and at the end of the day if they wanted to contribute, I let them. If they didn't or only gave me a few bucks fine, I'm going fishing without them either way. If you start splitting cost on everything, then it seems they think it's a charter. Just be careful out there and play by the rules.

Or if you do 4 trips with the pals, have each guy throw down his card for fuel each trip. Different guy, different trip. No one's splitting anything.
 

swami 805

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I've always thrown down a couple fasules when fishing on someones boat to help cover expenses,pretty common practice,bait fuel whatever. Hard to believe you can get a ticket for that. I'd fight it for sure. Go to your friendly law library for a few hours to famailarize yourself with the law so you can make a rational argument to the judge. That can't be right
 

Kman

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Wow. Hope there’s more to the story because saying you’re fishing buddies, splitting trip costs equally, used to be the correct answer. F&G would hang out at the bait barge, asking who is paying for what back in the early 2000s.
 
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af dreamer

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If it is setup in front that the owner will be getting money for sharing expenses,it will be considered a charter,they are usually referred to a boot leg charter.Unlicensed and uninsured to carry people for hire.It has always been that way.With people posting on the net it is making it more of a priority for the law to watch out for it.If there is a incidence and it comes out thats when stuff turns bad.FWIW,Tom
 
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tuna sniffer

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I wouldn’t think of fishing on anyone’s boat and not offering to pay whatever they tell me my share is. I own boats and expect the same, and I fish with others and demand they let me pay. Whatever they pay doesn’t begin to cover the time and money I put into it. There is nothing “charter” about it and they are almost always friends or friends of friends. Kids don’t pay and owner is part of the split. Fuck freeloaders!
 

cortezpirasea

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Charter Lives Matter...:food-smil
 

pacificscout

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What I would say if in that situation.

I know how to catch my own fish.
Do not need to pay someone to take me or locate fish for me.
Boat owner is my friend.
We are all fisherman and friends.
He invited me and that's all.

Here is my license. 🦑
 

joker63

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Moral of this story is keep you’re mouth shut
You don’t have to answer any questions
Went to Morro Bay rockfishing on a friends boat there was 4 of us soon as we hit the ramp there was a dfg warden. Started asking questions like where you all from
How do you know each other
I knew what he was “fishing” for
So I told him other than showing our id’s our fishing license or fish we don’t have to answer your BS questions
He got into the boat looked at our fish & checked 2 of us for our license And left
Immediately after he left some dork showed up and asked us if we had fish for sale
Set up ? Maybe
I told him it was illegal to sell sport caught fish and gtfoh
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yellowklr

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yes FIGHT it....Its not illegal to help pay for gas or bait on for a friends boat....
 

woodfish330

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Holy Crap guys..... The "revenue" poor DFW.... is just trying to make up for "lost revenue" due to the closures. Sorry... it's with an ambiguous law.... and truthful anglers admitting the gave ANYTHING to the skipper.

Having been a licensed 6 Pack skipper for years.... I recognize that there's always gonna be some real "pirate" operations.... BUT THIS .... is just ridiculous. Like a vulture..... waiting by the dry water hole for the "thirsty" ... shame on them. Should we expect anything less? Just think of all the "easy money".... that "inquiry" makes for them. Sad... sad.... sad!

See the "defense" attorney post above..... do your homework. Use "unfair" enforcement statistics (not consistant) (targeting) and revenue percentages... to bolster your case. Those tickets can be overturned. .... but "due diligence" and preparation will make or break your case. Maybe others here are willing to come and testify?

DON'T GO IN AND PLEAD IGNORANCE... YOU'LL SURELY LOSE. or just pay it.... Learn the expensive lesson..... "loose lips sink ships" ....

Good luck brother!
 
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