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.

Washington

Question

Data

Commercial Vessels

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

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

Yes but these regulsations are not comprehensive

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

State Parks does enforce regs on agency property

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

Department of Labor and Industries, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Revenue, Department of Licensing and others

White Water

Does your state regulate vessel operation in white water areas?

Yes

Other, please specify

Does your state regulate commercial white water operations?

Yes

Other, please specify

Search & Rescue

Does your agency have a dive team?

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

Agency Marine Crew dive team maintains facilities

What agency is responsible for Search and Rescue operations?

Local Law Enforcement agencies, Sheriff Departments and Police Departments having jurisdiction on the waters have Emergency Response and SAR responsibilities

What agency is responsible for victim recovery?

Local Law Enforcement agencies, Sheriff Departments and Police Departments having jurisdiction on the waters have Emergency Response and victim recover

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?

Operators of motorboats with 15 horsepower or greater, must be 12 years of age or older. Is being phased in beginning January 2008 starting with 12 to 20 year olds and increasing age each year until fully implemented in 2014.

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

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

non residents may operate for 60 days

Education Exemptions

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

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

non residents may operate for 60 days

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

exempt only when operating vessel under license

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

Many other exemptions see attached

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

X

Other, please specify

non-profit internet course providers

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

minor must be 12 yoa and have a Boater Ed Card

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

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

minor must be 14 yoa and have a Boater Ed Card

Minimum Ages for Education Certification

Does your state certify minor boaters?

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

must be 12 years of age

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

12 years of age

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?

Yes

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

must be 12 years of age, applies to motorboats with 15 or more horsepower

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.

14 years of age, when rental PWC operator must be 16 years of age

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 and from States with Mandatory Boater Education

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?

Valid for 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?

No

Other, please specify

Does your state require boating safety tests to be proctored?

Other, please specify

Other, please specify

Rules provide for proctored and unproctored exams.

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?

No

Other, please specify

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

No

If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, please describe the time(s) when 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?

Yes

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

Yes

Describe any other water skiing restrictions in your state.

Local regulations may limit hours and direction of skiing activities.

Motorboat Noise

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

Yes

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

90 dBs for vessel manf. before prior to 01/94 using stationary test; 88 dBs for vessel manf. on/after 01/94 using stationary test; 75 dBs using shoreline test.

Is there a factory muffling alteration law in your state?

No

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

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?

Other, please specify

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

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?

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

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?

A rental checklist is required to be reviewed & completed with person renting the vessel.

Does your state prohibit PWC operation at any specific times?

Yes

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

No PWC operation between hours of sunset to 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?

None.

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.

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

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

Yes

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

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

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?

All persons on a PWC; any person 12 years of age or less on vessel under 19' in length.

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

Infraction violation that must be witnessed by law enforcement officer. Fine amount: $87.00.

Blood Alcohol Content

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

0.00%

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?

Yes

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

During specific events with high congestion of vessels.

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?

No

Test Usage in Criminal Evidence

Blood

Breath

Urine

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?

No

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?

No

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

0%

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?

Other, please specify

Towing Distressed Vessels

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

Other, please specify

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

Other, please specify

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

Other, please specify

Liability Insurance

Does your state mandate liability insurance for boaters?

On-Water Pursuits

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

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

Transporting Subjects, Accident Victims, Guests

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

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

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

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?

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

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

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

Towing Distressed Vessels

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

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?

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?

Yes

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

Yes

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?

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?

Yes

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?

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.)?

No