Reference Guide

The purpose of this Reference Guide is to summarize the information that was gathered in research of states’ boating laws. The research was conducted by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. Presented as dashboards, the guide will assist state boating law administrators and others to improve state boating law programs. It provides information about specific state boating laws, regulations, and other areas of boating safety interest. When developing new policies or instituting new programs, it is common to ask what other states are doing in the area. These dashboards help provide those answers. The guide aims to promote greater uniformity in state boating laws and regulations and to facilitate the efficient administration and enforcement of boating laws.

All laws and regulations detailed in the Reference Guide were in effect as of May, 2020, except as otherwise noted. The laws and regulations are subject to change without notice by agencies, states or the U.S. Coast Guard. Contact the appropriate state boating program for more details on the latest information.
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Reference Guide: Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

  • Blood Alcohol Content Level
  • Legalized Cannabis
  • Vehicle Operating Privileges
  • Implied Consent
  • Preliminary Breath Test Instrument Use
  • Reason for Stop

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Reference Guide: Commercial Regulation

  • Regulate commercial vessels
  • Enforce regulations on commercial vessels
  • State regulate vessel operations in white water
  • State regulate commercial white water operations

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Education Requirements by State
Reference Guide: Education Requirements – State

  • Who is Required to Have a Boating Education Card
  • Powerboats this Applies to
  • Requirements for Adult Visiting Boaters


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Reference Guide: Liability & Seaplanes

  • Officers Allowed to Tow Vessels in Distress
  • Liability Insurance required for Boats
  • Seaplanes On-the-Water Treated as Vessels


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Reference Guide: Life Jacket Requirements

  • Maximum PFD Wear Age - State
  • State-specific details on wear requirements


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Reference Guide: Marine Sanitation Devices

  • Y-Valve Through-hull Discharge Prohibited
  • Y-Valves Required to be Locked/Closed


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Reference Guide: Personal Watercraft (PWC)

  • Y-Valve Through-hull Discharge Prohibited
  • Y-Valves Required to be Locked/Closed

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Search and Rescue
Reference Guide: Search & Rescue (SAR)

  • Dive Team within Agency
  • Agency Responsible for SAR
  • Agencies Responsible for Victim Recovery


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Vessel Operations
Reference Guide: Vessel Operations

  • Adult required with minor
  • Adult required with minor (PWC)
  • Minimum age to operate motorboat
  • Minimum age to operate paddlecraft
  • Maximum noise level
  • Factory muffling alteration law
  • Local ordinance for boat noise


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Reference Guide: Waterskiing
Reference Guide: Waterskiing

  • Observer required
  • Mirror allowed instead of observer
  • Prohibited times
  • Self-propelled skis allowed
  • Skier-down flag required
  • Other restrictions


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