New boating rules come into effect in Va. soon

Max Smith,

WASHINGTON – There will be new requirements for some Virginia boaters and Jet Skiers starting in just a few weeks.

Beginning July 1, anyone in Virginia waters who operates a personal watercraft like a Jet Ski or Sea-Doo will be required to have passed a boating safety class.

The requirement has been phased in over the last few years and currently applies to people 50 years old and younger.

Also on July 1, boat operators age 30 and younger will be required to have passed a boating safety course. That law currently applies to boat operators 20 and younger.

The law raises that age in increments over the next four years. All boat operators will have to satisfy the boating safety education requirement starting in July 2016.

If you don’t want to take the class, you have to pass an equivalency exam to satisfy the requirement. You can find out where to take a class here.

Exemptions are made for anyone who has had a license to operate a vessel from the Coast Guard, a marine certificate from the Canadian government, is operating a boat under the supervision of someone who has passed a boating safety class, or is only in Virginia waters temporarily but meets the safety requirements of the state the boat is registered in.

Maryland requires you to take a boating safety class if you operate any motorized vessel or personal watercraft and were born on or after July 1, 1972. There is an exception for those who operate a boat under the supervision of someone with a boating safety certificate.

Maryland also bars anyone under 16 from operating a personal watercraft like a Jet Ski. Virginia bars anyone under 14 from operating one.

D.C. also requires a boating safety certificate for anyone operating a vessel. In all three jurisdictions, you are supposed to carry the proof of meeting the requirement – like the certificate you get after passing a safety class – with you.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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