Forfeiture if Vessel Without Hull Identification Number (O.C.G.A. § 52-7-7.3)

Legal Commentary. If a boat does not have the appropriate hull identification number, then it will be towed and subject to forfeiture, unless the owner is unaware that the number has been removed or if and order is filed for a replacement hull identification number. It is for this reason that it is suggested that you write down your HIN and put it in a place separate from your vessel in case warranty problems arise or your vessel is stolen. It is also helpful to have your HIN if you are ever involved in a serious boating accident.

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Forfeiture if Vessel Without Hull Identification Number (O.C.G.A. § 52-7-7.3)   

(a) If the hull identification number on a vessel required by Code Section 52-7-7.1 or 52-7-7.2 to have a hull identification number does not exist or has been altered, removed, destroyed, covered, or defaced or the real identity of the vessel cannot be determined, the vessel, and any items used while towing said vessel, may be seized as contraband property by a law enforcement agency or the department and shall be subject to forfeiture. Such vessel shall not be sold or operated on the waters of the state unless the department:

(1) Receives a request from a law enforcement agency providing adequate documentation for a replacement hull identification number; or

(2) Is directed by written order of a court of competent jurisdiction to issue to the vessel a replacement hull identification number.

Thereafter, the replacement HIN shall be used for identification purposes. No vessel shall be forfeited if the owner was unaware the vessel's HIN had been altered, removed, destroyed, covered, or defaced.

(b) The failure to have the hull identification number clearly displayed in compliance with this article shall be probable cause for any law enforcement officer to make further inspection of the vessel in question to ascertain the true identity thereof.

HISTORY: Code 1981, § 52-7-7.3, enacted by Ga. L. 2006, p. 96, § 5/HB 1490.