Boating Law Updates


Beginning July 1, 2010 anyone born after January 1st, 1984 must successfully complete a boating safety course before getting behind the controls. Additionally, if you don’t have a drivers license it is illegal to operate a boat.

The current law requires that all persons born after January 1, 1988, must complete a boating education course and carry proof of completion to operate a  motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower. The person may operate  the boat if accompanied by someone over 18 years of age who, if  required, has completed the course.

South Carolina

State Natural Resources officials are considering mandatory training for new boaters. The proposals would require changes in state law. Under review is requiring a basic boating safety course before anyone new to boating takes to the water.

South Carolina is among 13 states lacking what the National Transportation Safety Board considers satisfactory boater education standards. Current law only requires those ages 15 and younger take a safe boating course. It is optional for everyone else.

Better education is important as state Natural Resources officers, charged with patrolling waterways, are stretched thinner. The number of Natural Resources officers has fallen to 200, down nearly 100 in the past five years due to state budget cuts as the state’s income has fallen.


A new boating rule in Wisconsin is designed to make lakes safer while protecting shorelines and improving water quality. The law, new for this year, prohibits boaters from operating their boats at speeds greater than slow-no-wake within 100 feet of lake shorelines. The law applies to all lakes. Slow-no-wake is defined as the minimum speed required to maintain steerage.

Boats operating in shallow waters often churn up sediment and chop up vegetation, decreasing water quality and potentially spreading invasive aquatic species like Eurasian water-milfoil. Slowing these boats will reduce this problem. In addition, eliminating wake near shores can reduce shoreline erosion.

This change is in addition to a current law which already prohibits boaters on lakes from operating at speeds greater than slow-no-wake within 100 feet of docks, rafts, piers and buoyed restricted areas.

Personal watercraft operators must also follow these laws in addition to speed restrictions that apply specifically to personal watercraft. Personal watercraft operators cannot operate at a speed greater than slow-no-wake within 200 feet of the shoreline of any lake. They also are required to cut back to slow-no-wake speed when passing within 100 feet of other boats, including other personal watercraft. This law applies to both rivers and lakes.

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Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety

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