July 4th Weekend – Reminder of the Boating Laws in Alabama

It’s a great to live in Alabama surrounded by lakes, rivers and the beaches.  This weekend there will be many people out on Alabama’s lakes and rivers.  So it is a good time for a refresher on Alabama’s boating laws.  This weekend there will be more Marine Police patrols out looking for people that are violating the law.

  • No one under 12 is supposed to operate a boat or personal water craft on the Rivers and Lakes of Alabama. Violation of this law is a Class B Misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $25.00.
  • All Operators of personal watercraft, other than canoes, sailboats or rowboats must have a boater safety certification (Boating license) Certificate must be with the operator when operating the boats. People renting a boat maybe exempted.
  • You cannot operate any motorized vessel on Alabama waters while certification or privilege is cancelled, suspended, or revoked Violation is a Class C misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $100.
  • The Operator of a Personal Watercraft has to have an emergency cutoff switch attached to their person when operating the boat. Violation of this law is a Class B Misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $25.00.
  • Everyone on a boat or personal water craft are required to be wearing a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. Violation of this law is a Class B Misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $100.00.
  • A personal watercraft shall at all times be operated on the waters of this state in a reasonable and prudent manner. Maneuvers which endanger life, limb, or property, or create a public nuisance, including, but not limited to the following, weaving through congested vessel traffic at high speed, following closely behind within the wake of a vessel towing a person or persons on water skis, surfboard, or other water sport device, jumping the wake of another vessel travelling in the same direction in close proximity to the vessel, cutting between a boat and the person or persons being towed by that boat, or crossing at right angles in close proximity to the stern of another vessel or when visibility around the other vessel is obstructed, or steering a vessel toward any object or person in the water and turning sharply at close range so as to spray the object or person, shall all constitute the reckless operation of a vessel.  This is a Class A Misdemeanor minimum fine of $150.
  • A personal watercraft cannot tow a person or other watercraft without an approved rear view mirror. Violation of this law is a Class B Misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $25.00.
  • A person shall not operate or be in actual physical control of any vessel, or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane, or any other marine transportation device on Alabama’s waters, under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance enough to impair that person’s ability to operate the vessel or has a blood alcohol level over .08.
  • If a person is stopped by the Marine Police, if the Marine Police has probable cause to believe that the operator of the vessel or other marine device is operating in violation of this section, the law enforcement officer is authorized to administer and may test the operator, at the scene, by using a field breathalyzer or other approved device, for a screening device, to determine if the operator may be operating a vessel in violation of the law.
  • Refusal to submit to a field breathalyzer test or other approved testing device shall result in the suspension of your boating certificate.
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