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St. Croix Waterway Ass'n v. Meyer

ELR Citation: 29 ELR 21008
Nos. 98-1216, 178 F.3d 515/(8th Cir., 03/12/1999)

The court holds that the slow-no wake motorboat speed limit regulations applicable to the St. Croix River in Minnesota and Wisconsin are not unconstitutionally vague. The regulations require motorboat operators to travel at a speed no faster than necessary to maintain steerage and in such a way as to create no wakes in slow-no wake zones. The court first holds that the regulations are not unconstitutionally vague on their face. The regulations use ordinary words that are readily understood by persons of ordinary intelligence, and the particular context of the prohibited conduct gives fair notice to those to whom it is directed. Further, the failure of the regulations to specify a numerical maximum speed does not render them unconstitutionally vague because some degree of uncertainty is tolerated in speed limit laws. Moreover, the regulations set forth a standard, albeit imprecise, that provides minimal guidelines to govern law enforcement. Also, the argument that the regulations are unconstitutionally vague because they are selectively enforced against individuals who operated certain types of motorboats and individuals who operated motorboats registered in other states is not relevant to a void-for-vagueness facial challenge. The court last holds that the slow-no wake regulations do not violate the public trust doctrine. The public trust doctrine does not prohibit the state from enacting motorboat speed limits in order to protect the public and the public waters. Rather, it supports the states' authority to regulate navigation and to protect and preserve the public waters.

Counsel for Appellant
Jeffrey A. Eyres
Leonard & Street
150 S. 5th St., Ste. 2300, Minneapolis MN 55402
(612) 335-1974

Counsel for Appellees
James C. McKay Jr.
Attorney General's Office
123 Washington Ave. S., Rm. 607, Madison WI 53703
(608) 267-7292

Before Lay and Murphy, JJ.