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Personal Watercraft

Do you ride a personal watercraft?
(Jet Ski, Waverunner, Sea Doo, Etc.)

If so, listed are laws and regulations you should know:

  1. All operators, passengers or persons being towed must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life preserver. (Violation results in a minimum $100 fine plus court costs.)
  2. Unless your personal watercraft has the self circling feature, you must have a “kill switch” attached to the operator. (Violation results in a minimum $100 fine plus court costs.)
  3. No person under the age of 12 may operate a personal watercraft. Must be 14 years old and have a vessel license to operate a vessel or personal watercraft alone.  Operators 12 or 13 years old, after obtaining the vessel operator's license, can only operate if there is someone 21 years old or older on board, who also has a vessel operator's license in possession, and is seated in a position to take immediate control of the vessel if necessary. Click here for information on operator age and vessel license. (Violation results in a minimum $100 fine plus court costs.)
  4. No person shall maneuver a personal watercraft in a manner which endangers life, limb or property. (Violation results in a minimum fine of $150 plus court costs.)
    • Examples:
    • 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 traveling in the same direction in close proximity to the vessel.
    • Cutting between a boat and the person or persons being towed by that boat.
    • Crossing at right angles in close proximity to the stern of another vessel, or when visibility around the other vessel is obstructed.
    • Steering a personal watercraft toward any object or person in the water and turning sharply at close range so as to spray the object or person.
  5. All personal watercraft used for towing any person shall be equipped with rearview mirrors. The mirrors must contain a minimum viewing area size of ten (10) square inches. Each mirror must have a minimum viewing area height of 2.5 inches and a minimum viewing area width of 4 inches. The mirrors must be attached or mounted on both the right and left sides of the personal watercraft so as to provide the maximum rearward observation by the operator. Mirrors shall not be mounted on the steering mechanism of the personal watercraft. The minimum combined viewing area of both mirrors shall be twenty (20) square inches. NOTE: An observer is not accepted in lieu of mirrors. (Violation results in a minimum $100 fine plus court costs.)
  6. All personal watercraft operators must comply with the waterway “Rules of the Road”. (Violation results in a minimum $50 fine plus court costs.)

This is not a complete listing of all laws and regulations. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Alabama Marine Police Division, Education/Operator Certification Section, 64 North Union Street, Montgomery, AL 36130; (334) 242-3673 or erica.shipman@dcnr.alabama.gov.

 


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