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News for Laguna Beach solo divers.

Discussion in 'SoCal' started by Robert Phillips, Feb 7, 2006.

  1. Robert Phillips

    Robert Phillips Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: OC, California
    A month and a half ago, my friend was issued a citation for 'Solo diving' at Montage (Treasure Island) in Laguna Beach, Ca. Originally, the ticket was for a misdemeanor, but was later reduced to a violation of a city ordinance, much like a parking ticket.
    He appeared in court a few weeks ago to enter a plea. The judge offered him a trial or a $45.00 fine. He chose to go to trial, which he went to today.
    He was found not guilty, even though he was cited after leaving the water after a solo dive.

    The reason for this is that the city ordinance does not state anything about forbidding solo diving. The wording in the code states the equipment required for diving, among these is listed a "dive partner." While my friend was diving solo, the judge stated:"While diving is a dangerous sport, I vcannot hold your hand or make decisions for you. I wish you would dive with a partner, but you make your own decisions."

    The code is written under the assumption that if a lifeguard or other public official instructs you not to dive before you enter the water and you do it anyway, then they have the right to issue you a citation. If they approach you after the dive and tell you you are in violation and issue you a citation, it is invalid.

    I am not condoning solo diving and I don't do it myself, but there is no law against it in Laguna unless you are instructed not to dive before you enter the water. The same would go for conditions that would cause lifeguards to close beaches due to conditions such as high surf, crowded beaches, sewege spills, etc... If you are not told you are prohibited from diving, do what thou wilt.
  2. Mark Vlahos

    Mark Vlahos Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Florence, KY
    Does this mean that the same holds true for a snorkle ticket?

    If they get you coming out then they missed their chance. :)

    Mark Vlahos
  3. Robert Phillips

    Robert Phillips Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: OC, California
    Based on the info I have I would say yes, but I will leave that up to the individual to decide.

    If they do not stop you before entering the water, according to the wording of the code, they have no authority to write a ticket.
  4. IceDiverInCA

    IceDiverInCA Contributor

    Is there a case number for this trial?
  5. LAJim

    LAJim Contributor

    It would be useful to post the actual transcript when its available, redacted as appropriate to protect the defendant's identity. I wouldn't argue with someone issuing a citation by saying that "I read on the internet that someone said there is a judge here that says I can do this". On the other hand if there is a transcript and the language is clear and seems to have the force of law the dive community can mail it to whoever runs the life guards and ask them if they no longer plan on enforcing the ordinance.

    For the record, I don't plan on solo diving, but no one wants to get a misdemeanor citation for being the air hog in a group of three or similar scenarios and coming ashore alone.

  6. Robert Phillips

    Robert Phillips Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: OC, California
    The citation was corrected to note an infraction. The violation is not a misdemeanor, it was an error on the citing officers part.

    As far as the case number, I will get that and provide it to anyone who wants it.

    I don't think this will change the way the lifeguards view how they enforce this code. As I said, the law was written to give them authority to close the beaches as they see conditions dictate. But it is clear, according to the judge and the citing officer that (I can't get a hold of my friend at the moment to provide the actual legal verbage) you must be instructed before the actual event in order for the citation to be valid.

    I am not suggesting that you confront a lifeguard who wants to write a ticket with information obtained on the internet that they have no right to cite you. With the right information you can fight it in court (if you wish to spend the time, although it took less than a total of 4 hours of my friends time over the last 1 1/2 months) and get a not guilty verdict.

    If you are about to be issued a citation, be polite and inform them that you were never told before you entered that you could not dive. If they insist on issuing it anyway, tell them you will see them in court.

    Let me get back to you with the rest of the info as soon as I get it.

  7. ItsBruce

    ItsBruce Contributor

    I hate to rain on anyone's parade. However, the holding of a judge in one trial level court is not binding on another judge of the same court. The next time the lifeguard writes a ticket, he or she will simply make sure the trial is before a different judge. And, that is relatively easy. Sorry. But, its best not to rely on what happened in that one case.
  8. Mo2vation

    Mo2vation Relocated to South Florida.... ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: 33472
    "snorkle tickets"... do you need another reason to never dive on OCal again, and drive to MarineLand (or PV), or Vets, or Malibu, or some other real L.A. dive spot where you don't have to worry about that crapola?

    I mean, you dive where you can. I get that. But honestly, this is another reason I never drive from MDR to Orange County to dive. I've found OCal diving to be so overrated. Maybe I've just been unlucky.

    On 4 different trips.... :wink:

    Come to LA and forget about that nonesense and just enjoy the dive.


  9. Mark Vlahos

    Mark Vlahos Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Florence, KY
    Was the Tourette's dive really that wonderful? :D

    Mark Vlahos
  10. Diver_Jan

    Diver_Jan Contributor

    Wow! I'm impressed! You've missed out in the OC Ken, 'cause you weren't diving with me! How long have I been telling you that I see more marine life and species beach diving in Laguna than I do off of any boat??? Or any LA Dive site for that matter!

    Re the whole snorkle and solo diving issue, I guess it depends on who you talk too, ect. I am a fan of the snorkle, for sometimes, swells can be up. On the solo diving issue, I have been stopped by the lifegaurds and after a few exchanges re experience level, ect. I'm on my merry way.

    There was one incident where a 'group' of my friends were diving off of Cresent last summer. The lifegaurds got all freaked out, because there were so many of us. They informed us that we needed to be off the beach by 10am. We argued the point, in that we were not a 'class' and that according to city ordinances, nothing is mentioned pertaining to groups or clubs diving together. The lifegaurds then said that they were going to cite us if we needed assistance getting out of the water. I then asked if they cited the swimmers that they assisted out of the water? My point was taken.

    Just my .02 cents to add to the pot.

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