Boat operator age restrictions - who may operate a boat?

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Who May Operate a Boat

Those less than 12 years of age :

  • may legally operate a boat powered by a motor of no more than 6 horsepower (hp) without restrictions.
  • may legally operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 6 hp, but no more than 35 hp, only if they:
    • have been issued a boating safety certificate and have it on board; and
    • are directly supervised on board by a person at least 16 years of age.
  • may not legally operate a boat powered bya motor of more than 35 hp legally under any conditions.

Those born on or after July 1, 1996 may legally operate a boat only if they have been issued a boating safety certificate and have it on board.

Those born before July 1, 1996 may legally operate a boat without restrictions.

Who May Operate a Personal Watercraft 

Those less than 14 years of age may not legally operate a personal watercraft (PWC) (ie. jet ski, wave runner).

Those 14 and 15 years of age may legally operate a PWC if they have obtained a boating safety certificateand is

  • accompanied on board by their parent, legal guardian or by a person who has been designated by the parent or legal guardian and is at least 21 years of age; or
  • operating or riding the PWC at a distance of not more than 100 feet from their parent, legal guardian or by a person who has been designated by the parent or legal guardian and is at least 21 years of age.

Those at least 16 years of age and born after Dec. 31, 1978 may legally operate a PWC only if they have obtained a boating safety certificate.

Those born on or before December 31, 1978 may operate a PWC legally without restrictions.