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Code of Virginia
Title 29.1. Wildlife, Inland Fisheries and Boating
Chapter 8. Watercraft Dealer Licensing Act
11/28/2022

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 29.1-800. Short title.

The short title of this chapter is "Virginia Watercraft Dealer Licensing Act."

1988, c. 592.

§ 29.1-801. Definitions.

Unless the context otherwise requires, the following words and terms for the purpose of this chapter shall have the following meanings:

"Certificate of origin" means the document provided by the manufacturer of a new watercraft, or its distributor, which is the only valid indication of ownership between the manufacturer, its distributor, its franchised new watercraft dealers, and the original purchaser not for resale.

"Distributor" means a person who sells or distributes new watercraft, pursuant to a written agreement with the manufacturer, to new watercraft dealers in this Commonwealth.

"Distributor branch" means a branch office maintained by a distributor for the sale of watercraft to watercraft dealers or for directing or supervising, in whole or in part, its representatives in this Commonwealth.

"Distributor representative" means a person employed by a distributor or wholesaler, or by a distributor branch, for the purpose of making or promoting the sale of watercraft dealt in by it or for supervising or contacting its dealers, prospective dealers, or representatives in this Commonwealth.

"Established place of business" means a salesroom in a permanent enclosed building or structure, either owned in fee or leased, at which a permanent business of bartering, trading and selling of watercraft will be carried on as such in good faith and at which place of business shall be kept and maintained the books, records, and files necessary to conduct the business at such place. "Established place of business" does not mean residences, tents, temporary stands, or other temporary quarters, nor permanent quarters occupied pursuant to any temporary arrangement, devoted principally to the business of a watercraft dealer, as defined in this section.

"Factory branch" means a branch office, maintained by a person for the sale of watercraft to distributors or for the sale of watercraft to watercraft dealers, or for directing or supervising, in whole or in part, its representatives in this Commonwealth.

"Factory representative" means a person employed by a person who manufactures or assembles watercraft or by a factory branch for the purpose of making or promoting the sale of its watercraft or for supervising or contacting its dealers, prospective dealers, or representatives in this Commonwealth.

"Franchise" means a written contract or agreement between two or more persons whereby one person, the franchisee, is granted the right to engage in the business of offering, selling and servicing new watercraft manufactured or distributed by the grantor of the right, the franchisor, and where the operation of the franchisee's business is substantially associated with the franchisor's trademark, trade name, advertising, or other commercial symbol designating the franchisor, the watercraft or its manufacturer or distributor.

"Manufacturer" means a person engaged in the business of constructing or assembling new watercraft.

"New watercraft" means any watercraft that (i) has not been previously sold except in good faith for the purpose of resale; (ii) has not been used as a rental or demonstration watercraft, or for the personal and business transportation of the manufacturer or dealer or any of their employees, for any use other than the limited use necessary in testing the watercraft prior to delivery to a customer; (iii) is transferred by a certificate of origin; and (iv) has the manufacturer's certification that it conforms to all applicable federal watercraft safety standards.

"New watercraft dealer" means a dealer in new watercraft or new and used watercraft.

"Person" means any natural person or individual, partnership, firm, association, corporation, or other entity.

"Retail installment sale" means and includes every sale of one or more watercraft to a buyer for his use and not for resale, in which the price thereof is payable in one or more installments over a period of time and in which the seller has either retained title to the goods or has taken or retained a security interest in the goods under form of contract designated either as a conditional sale, bailment lease, chattel mortgage or otherwise.

"Sale at retail" or "retail sale" means the act or attempted act of selling, bartering, exchanging, or otherwise disposing of a watercraft to a buyer for his personal use and not for resale.

"Sale at wholesale" or "wholesale" means a sale to watercraft dealers or wholesalers other than to consumers or a sale to one who intends to resell.

"Used watercraft" means any watercraft other than a new watercraft as defined in this section.

"Used watercraft dealer" means a dealer in used watercraft that does not deal in new watercraft.

"Watercraft" means the same as that term is defined in § 29.1-733.2 except that (i) United States naval watercraft, (ii) watercraft that have a valid marine document issued by the United States Coast Guard other than recreational watercraft under 70 feet in length, and (iii) watercraft documented outside the United States are not included in such definition for purposes of this chapter.

"Watercraft dealer" means any person that:

1. For commission, money, or other thing of value, buys, sells, exchanges, either outright or on conditional sale, bailment lease, chattel mortgage, or otherwise howsoever, or arranges or offers or attempts to solicit or negotiate on behalf of others a sale, purchase, or exchange of an interest in, new watercraft or new and used watercraft or used watercraft alone whether or not such watercraft are owned by such person;

2. Is engaged, wholly or in part, in the business of selling new watercraft or new and used watercraft, or used watercraft only, whether or not such watercraft are owned by such person; or

3. Sells, offers to sell, displays, or permits the display for sale of two or more watercraft within any 12 consecutive months.

For the purpose of this chapter, "watercraft dealer" does not include:

1. Receivers, trustees, administrators, executors, guardians, conservators, or other persons appointed by or acting under judgment or order of any court or their employees when engaged in the specific performance of their duties as such employees;

2. Public officers, their deputies, assistants, or employees, while performing their official duties;

3. Persons, other than corporations or other business entities primarily engaged in the leasing or renting of watercraft to others, (i) when selling or offering such watercraft for sale at retail or (ii) disposing of watercraft acquired for their own use and actually so used, when the same shall have been so acquired and used in good faith and not for the purpose of avoiding the provisions of this chapter;

4. Any corporation duly chartered or authorized to do a banking or trust business under the authority of the laws of this Commonwealth, or the United States, that may have received title to a watercraft in the normal course of its business by reason of a foreclosure, other taking, repossession or voluntary reconveyance to said corporation arising or occurring as a result of any loan secured by a lien on said watercraft;

5. An employee of an organization arranging for the purchase or lease by the organization of watercraft for use in the organization's business;

6. Any person who permits the operation of a watercraft show or permits the display of watercraft for sale by any watercraft dealer licensed under this chapter; or

7. An insurance company licensed or otherwise authorized to do business in this Commonwealth that sells or disposes of watercraft under a contract with its insured and in the regular course of its business.

"Watercraft demonstrator" means any person who is employed or contracted by a watercraft dealer to demonstrate watercraft to prospective buyers.

"Watercraft salesman" or "salesman" means any person who is employed as a salesman by, or has an agreement with, a watercraft dealer to sell or exchange watercraft.

"Watercraft show" means a display of watercraft to the general public at a location other than a dealer's location licensed under this chapter where such watercraft may be offered for sale or exchange during or as part of the display.

1988, c. 592; 1989, c. 140; 1997, c. 801; 1998, c. 515; 2013, c. 787; 2020, c. 958.

§ 29.1-802. General powers of Board.

The Board shall promote the interest of the retail buyers of watercraft.

The Board may prevent unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices.

1988, c. 592.

§ 29.1-803. Powers with respect to hearings, legal proceedings, witnesses, etc.

The Director may, in hearings arising under this chapter, determine the place in the Commonwealth where they shall be held; subpoena witnesses; take depositions of witnesses residing without the Commonwealth in the manner provided for in civil actions in courts of record; pay such witnesses the fees and mileage for their attendance as is provided for witnesses in civil actions in courts of record; and administer oaths.

1988, c. 592.

§ 29.1-804. Suit to enjoin violations.

The Director may, whenever he shall believe from evidence submitted to him that any person has been or is violating any provision of this chapter, in addition to any other remedy, bring action in the name of the Commonwealth against such person and any other persons concerned or in any other way participating in, or about to participate in, practices or acts so in violation, to enjoin such person and such other persons from continuing the same.

1988, c. 592.

§ 29.1-805. Regulations.

The Board may make such regulations requiring persons licensed under this chapter to keep and maintain records reasonably required for the enforcement of this chapter, and such other regulations, not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter, as it shall deem necessary or proper for the effective administration and enforcement of this chapter. A copy of such regulations shall be mailed to each watercraft dealer licensee not less than ten days prior to the effective date of such regulations.

1988, c. 592.

§ 29.1-806. Examination or audit of licensee; complaints; costs.

A. The Director may inspect the pertinent books, records, letters and contracts of a licensee relating to any written complaint for a violation of this chapter made to him against such licensee. If such licensee is found to have violated this chapter or any lawful order of the Director, the actual cost of such examination shall be paid by such licensee so examined within thirty days after demand therefor by the Director. The Director may maintain an action for the recovery of such costs in any court of competent jurisdiction.

B. No licensee shall be subject to examination or audit by the Director except as provided in this section.

1988, c. 592.

§ 29.1-807. Penalties.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

1988, c. 592.