Reference Guide to State Boating Laws

The Reference Guide to State Boating Laws answers a number of questions related to recreational boating safety public law. Topics covered include boating education, operator age, water skiing, boat noise, numbering & titling, personal watercraft, boating under the influence, personal flotation devices and more.

The data in the guide was supplied by the states and collectively updated during 2007. Data can also be updated by boating law administrators (or designates) for the individual states.

The information is subject to change at any time and facts should be verified with the BLAs if there are any questions.

To access the data, click on the drop down menu below and select a topic area.

Personal Watercraft Restrictions
[Table 4.8]

State

Is there a speed limit specific to PWCs other than slow/no wake zones in your state?

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, please list the speed limit.

Is PWC operation restricted within any area or zone in your state?

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, please list the restricted area or zone.

Are limitations imposed on wake jumping with PWCs in your state?

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, please describe the limitations.

Is there a kill switch or safety lanyard requirement for PWCs in your state?

Alabama

No 

 

Yes 

Only zones marked by signs or bouys or on public fishing lakes that specifically prohibit their use 

Yes 

33-5-51(d) ....jumping the wake of another vessel travelling in the same direction in close proximity to the vessel...crossing at right angles in close proximity to the stern of another vessel or when visibility around the other vessel is obstructed... 

Yes 

Alaska

No 

 

Yes 

Some special purpose areas such as state parks and state critical habitat areas 

No 

 

No 

American Samoa

No 

 

Yes 

Swimming areas, boat mooring areas 

No 

 

Yes 

Arizona

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

A PWC cannot head into the wake of a motorboat that is within a zone of proximity closer than sixty feet and cause one-half or more of the length of the personal watercraft to leave the water.  

Yes 

Arkansas

No 

 

Yes 

Some sole state waters prohibit PWCs.  

Yes 

Unsafe PWC operation shall include but not be limited to: becoming airborne or completely leaving the water while crossing the wake of another vessel within 100ft of the vessel creating the wake. 

Yes 

Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Columbia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California

No 

Must observe all local speed orfinances and state speed laws 

Yes 

Local agencies may restrict by time of day, special use areas, speed limits, and sanitation and pollution control 

Yes 

No wake jumping within 100 feet of the another vessel creating the wake. 

Yes 

Colorado

no 

 

no 

 

yes 

Careless boating is defined to include wake jumping at an unsafe distance or whenever visibility is obstructed. 

yes 

Connecticut

Yes 

slow/no wake within 200' of any shore, dock, pier, float moored or anchored vessel 

No 

 

Yes 

can't jump within 100' behind a boat if it causes you to go airborn 

Yes 

Delaware

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

must be 100 yards slow no wake in incorporated area, no jumping shore break 

Yes 

District of Columbia

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

No operator of any personal watercraft while underway and within one hundred (100) yards of another vessel shall jump any other vesselé─˘s wake while operating or in physical control of watercraft while on the District of Columbiaé─˘s waterway. When two (2) or more personal water operators are operating at a speed greater than ten (10) miles per hour, the operators shall steer their craft so as to be at least twenty-five (25) yards apart from any vessel to include any other personal watercraft 

Yes 

Florida

No 

 

Yes 

There are local restrictions. These are not state restrictions. 

Yes 

Jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably or unnecessarily close to such other vessel or when visibility around such other vessel is obstructed is prohibited. 

Yes 

Georgia

Yes 

Idle speed within 100 feet of shoreline, dock, persons in water, moored vessels, etc. 

No 

 

Yes 

Within 100 feet of another vessel 

Yes 

Guam

No 

 

Yes 

Within Tumon and Pago bays 

No 

 

No 

Hawaii

No 

 

Yes 

Č▀13-256-17 Recreational thrill craft operations. (a) Access to and from designated recreational thrill craft operating areas shall be by the most direct route consistent with safety considerations. (b) In non-designated ocean recreation management areas, recreational thrill craft may operate only in state waters between five hundred feet from the shoreline or the outer edge of the fringing reef whichever is greater and two miles off the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii. (c) In designated ocean recreation management areas, recreational thrill craft may operate only within locations designated for recreational thrill craft use. (d) No thrill craft shall be operated for profit or gain in a recreational thrill craft operating area. (e) Recreational thrill craft may gain access to state waters only from launching or harbor facilities or from private beach front property. Č▀13-256-16 Thrill craft operations; general provisions. (b) No person shall operate thrill craft within a marine life conservation district or marine natural area reserve. (c) Thrill craft operations shall be curtailed in certain designated areas as described in subchapters two through eleven as necessary, to: 1) avoid possible adverse impacts on humpback whales or other protected marine life; 2) provide for increased public access; 3) reduce user conflicts; and 4) promote overall public safety.  

Yes 

per federal regs 

No 

Idaho

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

Can be considered negligent operation under some circumstances. 

No 

Illinois

No  

 

Yes  

numerous ordinaces on private lakes restrict use of PWC's. We also have numerous areas restricting boating..ie nuclear power plant areas etc...  

No  

 

Yes  

Indiana

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

It is unlawful to jump the wake of another watercraft. 

Yes 

Iowa

No 

 

Yes 

A county conservation board lake, Lake Icaria, prohibits "inboard" vessels. 

No 

 

Yes 

Kansas

No 

 

Yes 

May be used only for fishing on our state fishing lakes 

Yes 

Must maintain a reasonable and prudent distance behind the vessel.  

Yes 

Kentucky

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

A person operating a PWC shall not jump a wake in a way tha endangers human life, human physical safety or property. 

Yes 

Louisiana

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

Carless operation 

Yes 

Maine

No 

 

Yes 

Certain internal waters of the state under the jurisdiction of the Land Use Regulation Commission of the Dept. of Conservation. 

Yes 

A person is guilty of imprudent operation of a watercraft if that person engages in prolonged circling, informal racing, wake jumping or other continued and repeated activities that harass another person. 

No 

Manitoba (Canada)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maryland

Yes 

Must operate at a speed of less than 6 knots if operating pwc within 100' of other boats, people in the water, docks and bridge abutments 

No 

 

Yes 

Pwc's may not jump or attempt to jump the wake of another vessel within 100' of the vessel. This is considered negligent operation 

Yes 

Massachusetts

No 

 

Yes 

(1) Eastern area of Cape Cod:six contiguous towns have prohibited them in local coastal waters. 

Yes 

The "unreasonable" jumping the wake of another boat is prohibited. 

Yes 

Michigan

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

Cannot pass within 150 feet of another vessel 

Yes 

Minnesota

t's not a statewide speed limit, just various slow-no wake zones with 150 feet of shore, docks, swimmers, swim rafts, anchored boats, etc. 

Slow no wake through emergent or floating vegetation, anchored or moored boats, non-powered boats, shore, docks, swim rafts.  

Yes 

Anywhere motor boats are restricted or restricted. 

Yes 

No wake jumping within 150 feet of the stern of the other boat. 

Yes 

Mississippi

No 

 

No 

 

No 

 

No 

Missouri

No 

They also cannot operate above idle speed within 50 feet of another vessel or person in the water. 

No 

 

Yes 

Jumping the wake of a vessel when visibility is obstructed. Becoming airborne while crossing the wake of another motorboat within 100 feet of that motorboat. 

Yes 

Montana

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

crossing or jumping the wak of another vessel when within 100 yards of the vessel or within 100 yards of a waterskier being towed by a vessel 

Yes 

Nebraska

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

PWC cannot jump the wake of a boat pulling skiers or tubers. PWC cannont jump wake of a boat within 50 yards of the boat. 

Yes 

Nevada

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

Vessels must stay 5 lengths away from longest vessel. 

Yes 

New Hampshire

No 

 

Yes 

A number of lakes do not allow ski craft. Also any lake less than 75 acres do not allow ski craft (one or two seater)  

Yes 

Vessel cannot be totally airborne when jumping wakes. 

No 

New Jersey

No 

 

Yes 

Point Pleasant and Cape May Canals 

Yes 

cannot jump wake w/i 100' of vessel creating wake 

Yes 

New Mexico

No 

 

No 

 

Yes  

within 150 feet of any other cruising vessels.  

Yes 

New York

Yes 

f. No person shall operate a personal watercraft or a specialty prop-craft within five hundred feet of any designated bathing area, except in bodies of water where the opposing shoreline is less than five hundred feet from such designated area and in accordance with speed regulations and restrictions as provided by local law or ordinance but in no event at a speed in excess of ten miles per hour, provided, however, that nothing contained in this subdivision shall be construed to prohibit the launching of such vessel from designated launching areas or sites.  

Yes 

restriction vary by town and waterway 

Yes 

g. Every personal watercraft and specialty prop-craft shall at all times be operated in a reasonable and prudent manner. Maneuvers which unreasonably or unnecessarily endanger life, limb, or property, including, but not limited to, (i) weaving through congested vessel traffic, or (ii) jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably or unnecessarily close to such other vessel or when visibility around such other vessel is obstructed, or (iii) swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision shall constitute reckless operation of a vessel, as provided in section forty-five of this article 

Yes, if provided on watercraft 

North Carolina

Yes 

No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this State at greater than no 

Yes 

See #66 

 

A personal watercraft must at all times be operated in a reasonable and prudent manner. Maneuvers that endanger life, limb, or property shall constitute reckless operation of a vessel as provided in G.S. 75A 

Yes 

North Dakota

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

JUmping the wake of another watercraft within one hundred feet of the other watercraft. 

Yes 

Northern Mariana Islands

Yes 

5 mph 

Yes 

micro beach north to paupau beach and sugar dock area south to San Antonio  

No 

 

No 

Ohio

No 

 

Yes 

Operation is restricted in "No boat areas", within 300 feet of an offical diver's flag.  

Yes 

Becomming air borne while crossing the wake of another vessel within 100 ft or unsafe distance. 

Yes 

Oklahoma

No 

 

Yes 

Some municipal lakes have specified PWC use areas. 

Yes 

No person shall operate any vessel in a reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger life or property of any person. No person shall operate any vessel at speeds over ten MPH while within 50 feet in proximity to another vessel. 

Yes 

Ontario (Canada)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oregon

Yes 

Slow to 10 mph when approaching within 100 feet of another powerboat or sailboat underway.  

Yes 

We have several restrictions on many of our coastal streams...too many to report. 

Yes 

It is illegal to jump the wake of another vessel unreasonably close to that vessel or when its operator's vision is obstructed. 

Yes 

Pennsylvania

Yes 

Speed limits for all boats are in place on various lakes. 

No 

 

Yes 

It is unlawful to: (1) Operate a motorboat not equipped with railings or other safeguards at greater than a slow, no wake speed while a person is riding on bow decking, gunwales, transom or motor cover. It is not a violation of this paragraph to ride on the motor cover of an inboard motorboat while underway at that speed if the motor cover is designed by the manufacturer for the operator or a passenger to ride on it. (2) Operate a motorboaté─ţless than 20 feet in lengthé─ţat greater than slow, no wake speed while a person is standing on or in the boat. It is not a violation of this paragraph if the boat is designed for the operator or a passenger, or both, to stand while underway at that speed. (3) Operate or stop a boat in a marked marine event area in violation of the conditions of the event. (4) Operate or stop a boat in a manner that interferes with the conduct of a permitted marine event. (5) Cause a boat to become airborne or completely leave the water while crossing the wake of another boat when within 100 feet of the boat creating the wake.  

Yes 

Puerto Rico

No 

 

Yes 

In lakes or reservoirs 

No 

 

Yes 

Quebec (Canada)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhode Island

Yes 

headway speed in the vicinity of docks, other boats, moorings, swimmers and within 200 feet from shore. when getting underway from shore, must proceed as perpendicular as possible from shore and move at headway speed only 

Yes 

some municipalities have banned them from small ponds 

Yes 

it is a violation to operate weaving through congested traffic, circling another vessel, wake jumping 

Yes 

South Carolina

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

Must not jump the wake of another vessel within two hundred feet of that vessel. 

Yes 

South Dakota

No 

 

 

 

No 

 

Yes 

Tennessee

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

Jumping the wake of another vessel within 100 feet of that vessel 

Yes 

Texas

No 

 

No  

 

Yes 

Prohibited tojump the wake of another evessel reclessly or unnecessarily close th that vessel.  

Yes 

Utah

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

All vessels are required to stay 150 feet from others when above a wakeless speed. 

No 

Vermont

No 

 

Yes 

On any bodies of water less than 300 surface acres and on some waters noted under the "Collected Management Rules for Vermont Waters". 

Yes 

Must not be within 200 feet of any other vessel traveling at more than 5 mph and/or creating a wake. 

Yes 

Virgin Islands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia

No 

 

Yes 

Restricted to no-wake speed when within 50 feet of docks, piers, boathouses, boat ramps, people in the water, and vessels other than PWC. 

Yes 

Reckless operation of a PWC if jumping the wake of another vessel more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vessels and the traffic on and the condition of the waters at the time. 

Yes 

Washington

No 

 

Yes 

San Juan County does not permit PWCs except when transitting through county waters. 

Yes 

No recklessly jumping the wake of nother vessel unreasonable or unnecessaryily close to the vessel when visibility is obstructed. 

Yes 

West Virginia

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

Cannot operate within 100ft of another vessel 

Yes 

Wisconsin

No 

 

No 

 

No 

 

Yes 

Wyoming

No 

 

Yes 

All waters in Grand Teton National Park in Teton County Green River Lakes in Sublette County New Fork Lakes in Sublette County Soda Lake on Soda Lake Wildlife Habitat Management Area in Sublette County 

Yes 

Cannot cross/jump the wake within a 100 feet of the other watercraft 

Yes