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.

Rhode Island

Question

Data

Commercial Vessels

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

No

Other, please specify

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

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

None

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?

No

Other, please specify

What agency is responsible for Search and Rescue operations?

RI DEM Law Enforcement

What agency is responsible for victim recovery?

RI DEM Law Enforcement

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?

All PWC Operators and anyone born after 1-1-86 operating a vessel powered by an engine of 10 or more horsepower

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

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

We require PWC renters to take a course

Education Exemptions

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

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

exempt if they meet the requirements of their state

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

Yes

Other, please specify

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

any person completing a NASBLA approved course

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?

70% by statute

Providers of Education Courses

State Agency

X

US Coast Guard Auxiliary

X

US Power Squadrons

X

Public School System

Private Company

X

Other, please specify

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?

No

Other, please specify

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

No

Other, please specify

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?

no minimum

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.

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

No

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

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?

we require visitors to meet requirements of home state. new residents certificates must be from a course with proctored exam

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

Challenge Exams

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

Yes

Other, please specify

Online Courses & Proctoring

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

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

require a proctored exam

Does your state require boating safety tests to be proctored?

Yes

Other, please specify

Water Skiing

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

Yes

Other, please specify

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

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

observer 12 yo or older

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.

one half hour after sunset to one half hour before sunrise water skiing is prohibited.

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?

No

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 cutouts is prohibited-must have manufacturer installed muffler

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?

46-12-40 Penalty for violations. - (a) Every person in violation of 46-12-39 or owning, operating or causing to be operated, upon the waters of the state, a boat in violation of the provisions of 46-12-39 or aiding in so doing, shall for the first offense be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or be imprisoned for not more than one year in the adult correctional institutions, or both such fine and imprisonment, and for a second and each subsequent offense shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or be imprisoned for not more than one year in the adult correctional institutions, or both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court. If a municipality assists in the prosecution of a violation of 46-12-39 any fine imposed for that violation shall be paid one-half (1/2) thereof to the general treasurer of the state and one-half (1/2) thereof to the treasurer of the town or city where the offense occurred.

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

$1000.00 and up to 1 year

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?

view a video and pass a test

Does your state prohibit PWC operation at any specific times?

Yes

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

1/2 after sunset,1/2 hour 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?

observer over age of 12 required- must be designed for and capable of carrying the skier and observer and operator

Personal Watercraft Restrictions

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

Yes

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

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

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 municipalities have banned them from small ponds

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

Yes

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

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

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?

children under the age of 13 when under way on a vessel under 65 ft unless below decks. operator and passengers on PWC

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

$100

Blood Alcohol Content

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

0.08

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

No

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

Boating Under the Influence

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

No

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

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?

Yes

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?

No

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

1%

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?

Yes

Other, please specify

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?

No

On-Water Pursuits

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

Yes

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?

Yes

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?

No

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

No

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

No

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?

No

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

No

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

MOU with the USCG for Law Enforcement

Investigation of Theft & Fraud

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

No

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

No

Employment

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

No

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

No

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

No

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?

We have several policies on different training requirements.

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.)?

No