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.

Arkansas

Question

Data

Commercial Vessels

Does your state/territory regulate commercial vessels on sole state waters?

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

Not yet, but a "dinner cruise" is being proposed

If you answered yes to the previous question, is your agency responsible for enforcing regulations on commercial vessels on sole state waters?

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

Don't know yet, haven't gotten that far.

If you answered "No" to the previous question, which state agency is responsible?

White Water

Does your state regulate vessel operation in white water areas?

No

Other, please specify

Does your state regulate commercial white water operations?

No

Other, please specify

Search & Rescue

Does your agency have a dive team?

Yes

Other, please specify

What agency is responsible for Search and Rescue operations?

Depends. Most counties have their own S&R teams; but we are recognized as the State's S&R agency through our Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

What agency is responsible for victim recovery?

Again, most county Sheriff offices have recovery teams, but our Agency's team is available for statewide operations if a county does not have a team

Boating Education Requirements

Does your state require mandatory boating safety education for some segment of the population?

Yes

Who is required to complete a boating education course in your state?

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1986

Are only residents of your state required to complete a boating education course?

No

Other, please specify

Education Exemptions

Are non-residents exempt from having to take a boating education course in your state?

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

We will accept another state's approved course.

Are U.S. Coast Guard licensed operators exempt from having to take a boating education course in your state?

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

Only if they are born before 1986.

Are any other persons exempt from having to take a boating education course in your state? Please list.

N-A

Exams and License/Certificate Issuance

Is issuance of a license/certificate dependant upon passing an exam in your state?

Yes

Other, please specify

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, what is the passing score in your state?

80%

Providers of Education Courses

State Agency

X

US Coast Guard Auxiliary

X

US Power Squadrons

X

Public School System

Private Company

Other, please specify

BE is in some public schools but not all.

Minors, Powerboats Personal Watercraft

Does your state require an adult to be on board when a minor is operating a motor-powered vessel other than a PWC?

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

Under 12(10hp or more)direct visible&audible-17yr

Does your state require an adult to be on board when a minor is operating a PWC?

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

12 or 13 yrs have to have 18yr old, under 12 - 21y

Minimum Ages for Education Certification

Does your state certify minor boaters?

Yes

Other, please specify

What is the minimum age someone can be certified in your state?

If they can pass the test, they can be certified.

Does your state have reciprocity for accepting out of state certification of minor boaters if the certification course meets NASBLA's Education Standards?

Yes

Mandatory Boat Operator Licensing

Does your state require mandatory boat operator licensing?

No

Other, please specify

Minimum Ages for Non-PWC Vessels

Does your state set a minimum age requirement to operate a motor powered vessel other than a PWC?

No

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, please list the required age and any other details such as horsepower rating.

To operate a motorboat powered by 10hp or more: A person under 12 must have BE and be under direct visible and audible supervision of a parent, guardian or person over 17 years.

Does your state set any minimum age requirements to operate a PWC?

Yes

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

14yrs to operate by themselves as long as they are BE certified. Persons 12 or 13 years must have BE and have a person at least 18yrs on board. Under 12 must have BE and have a person at least 21yrs on board and in a position to take immediate control of the PWC.

Minimum Ages for Non-Powered Vessels

Are there any minimum age requirements in your state to operate non-powered vessels such as sailboats, canoes or kayaks?

No

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

Education Reciprocity

Do you accept out-of-state boating education certificates in your state?

Yes

Other, please specify

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, which type of certificates do you accept?

NASBLA approved courses.

Does your state honor NASBLA-approved course reciprocity for non-residents?

Yes

Other, please specify

Wallet-Sized Certificates

Does your state issue wallet size boating certificate cards?

Yes

Other, please specify

How long are education certificates/student wallet cards valid in your state?

Life of the individual.

Challenge Exams

Does your state allow students to take a challenge exam to meet your state boating education requirement?

No

Other, please specify

Online Courses & Proctoring

Does your state have any laws in place which expressly prohibit online boating safety courses?

No

Other, please specify

Does your state require boating safety tests to be proctored?

No

Other, please specify

Water Skiing

Does your state require an observer to be present when pulling a skier?

Other, please specify

Does your state require a mirror to be present when pulling a skier?

Other, please specify

Does your state prohibit water skiing during any specific time of the day/night?

Yes

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, please describe the time(s) when skiing is prohibited.

1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.

Water Skiing

Does your state require a skier to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD?

Yes

Are self-propelled skis allowed to be used in your state?

Yes

Does your state require the use of a skier down flag?

No

Describe any other water skiing restrictions in your state.

Motorboat Noise

Is there a maximum noise level for motorboats in your state?

No

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, please give the levels and standard used.

Is there a factory muffling alteration law in your state?

Yes

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, what is the law?

The use of dry stack headers or pipes extending directly from the engine of a motorboat which does not have any type of muffler is prohibited

Is boat noise governed by local ordinance in your state?

No

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, what is the local ordinance?

Marine Sanitation Devices

Does your state prohibit Y-valve through-hull discharge in waters of state jurisdiction?

Yes

Other, please specify

Does your state require Y-valves to be locked/closed in waters of state jurisdiction?

Yes

Other, please specify

Marine Sanitation Devices

What are the penalties for misuse or failure to equip a vessel with a Marine Sanitation Device in your state?

Fined $100 to $1,000 and/or up to 3 months in jail. Also may be assessed an administrative civil penalty not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) per violation

What are the penalties for illegal dumping/discharge of a Marine Sanitation Device in your state?

Same as #56.

Personal Watercraft Operation

Does your state require users to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD when operating a PWC?

Yes

Does your state require PWC rental operators to provide any instruction or education in PWC operation prior to use?

Yes

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, how much instruction is required?

Operators must view a PWC instructional video (approved by AGFC) and the livery shall provide the operator written boating regulations.

Does your state prohibit PWC operation at any specific times?

Yes

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

Prohibited between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise.

Personal Watercrafts and Skiers

Does your state allow PWCs to pull water skiers?

Yes

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, are there any restrictions?

Must have onboard an observer at least 12yrs or older and the PWC must be able to ride 3 or more persons. Mirrors are not allowed in lieu of an observer.

Personal Watercraft Restrictions

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

No

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?

Yes

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

Some sole state waters prohibit PWCs.

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

Yes

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

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.

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

Yes

Life Jackets

Which persons in your state are required to wear a PFD and under what circumstances?

Anyone 12yrs old or younger must wear a PFD at all times. The only exception is when they are within the enclosed area of a houseboat or cruiser, or within the area enclosed by railings on a party barge, cruiser or houseboat - while the boat is NOT underway.

What are the penalties for violating PFD regulations in your state?

$100 to $250

Blood Alcohol Content

What is the BAC level at which a person is considered intoxicated in your state?

.08 for adults; .02 for minors (under 21)

Does your state have a lower threshold for BAC for minor boaters?

Yes

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, what is the BAC level for minors?

0.002

Boating Under the Influence

Does a BUI conviction impact an offender's automobile driving privileges in any way in your state?

Yes

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, how are their privileges impacted?

A BUI conviction will count as a previous offense in order to determine the number of previous offenses for the purpose of suspending or revoking a person's driving privileges under the Omnibus DWI Act.

BUI Saturation Patrols & Checkpoints

Are BUI saturation patrols utilized in your state?

No

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, how are they used?

Are BUI checkpoints utilized in your state?

No

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, how are they used?

Alcohol Testing for BUI

Does your state allow blood tests to determine BAC or BUI?

Yes

Does your state allow breath tests to determine BAC or BUI?

Yes

Does your state allow urine tests to determine BAC or BUI?

Yes

Test Usage in Criminal Evidence

Blood

X

Breath

X

Urine

X

Field Sobriety Tests

Does your state require field sobriety tests to be conducted on shore?

No

Other, please specify

Can refusal of a test be used against a boater in criminal prosecution in your state?

Yes

Other, please specify

Do marine officers utilize random BUI inspections that include boarding the boat in your state?

No

Negligent Operation of a Vessel

Does your state allow officers to issue citations for negligent operation of a vessel?

Yes

Portable BUI Equipment

Does your state allow the use of hand held or portable BUI enforcement equipment?

Yes

Does your state allow the use of hand held or portable BUI enforcement equipment to be used for probable cause?

Yes

Does your state allow the use of hand held or portable BUI enforcement equipment to be used for evidentiary purposes?

Yes

What percentage of law enforcement officers have access to hand held or portable BUI enforcement equipment in your state?

I can only speak for this Agency's officers and that percentage would be 100%.

Probable Cause

Does state law require probable cause for marine officers to stop a vessel?

No

Other, please specify

Does state law require probable cause for marine officers to board a vessel?

No

Other, please specify

Towing Distressed Vessels

Do marine officers utilize random safety inspections that include boarding the boat in your state?

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

Yes, but we typically don't "board" boats.

Are marine officers allowed to tow vessels in distress in your state?

Yes

Other, please specify

Are seaplanes "on the water" treated as vessels in your state?

No

Other, please specify

Liability Insurance

Does your state mandate liability insurance for boaters?

Yes

On-Water Pursuits

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on on-water pursuit?

No

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on interstate on-water pursuit?

No

Transporting Subjects, Accident Victims, Guests

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on transporting subjects?

Yes

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on transporting accident victims?

No

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on transporting guests?

No

Officer Safety

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on requiring officers to wear Coast Guard-approved PFDs?

No

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on skin care safety for officers?

No

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on hearing safety for officers?

No

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on back safety for officers?

No

Towing Distressed Vessels

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on towing distressed vehicles?

No

First Responders, First Aid, Good Samaritans, Search and Rescue

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on being a first responder at an accident?

Yes

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on the use of first aid?

Yes

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on the Good Samaritan law?

Yes

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on search and rescue?

No

Inter-agency Interacton

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on interaction with local agencies?

Yes

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on interaction with other state agencies?

Yes

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on interaction with federal agencies?

Yes

Investigation of Theft & Fraud

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on investigation of theft?

Yes

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on investigation of fraud?

Yes

Employment

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on outside employment?

Yes

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on substance abuse?

Yes

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on off-duty responsibilities?

Yes

Firearms

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on firearms training?

Yes

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on firearms training recertification?

Yes

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on in-service training?

Yes

Deadly Force

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on use of deadly force?

Yes

Volunteers

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on use of volunteers?

No

BUI Checkpoints

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on use of BUI checkpoints?

No

Patrol Time

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on on-water patrol time as a safety factor?

No

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on working a percentage of time on night patrol?

No

Carrying Emergency Equipment

Does your state have a written, formal marine law enforcement policy, operational procedure or executive order on carrying emergency equipment (loaner PFDs, throw lines, etc.)?

Yes