Boating accidents can happen to anyone, but many accidents are the result of someone not complying with the law. Everyone driving a boat should have the proper licensing, which ensures they are not only old enough but also skilled enough to safely drive the vessel.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation explains the basic requirement to drive a boat is to be at least 16 years old, but there are a few other important points to understand.
California Boater Card
When driving a boat, a person must have his or her California Boater Card. With this card, a person who is age 18 or older can supervise unlicensed minors ages 12 to 15 who can drive the vessel. It is important to note the card must physically be in the person’s possession and remain with them when they are supervising or driving the boat.
There are no laws requiring licensing for sailboats that are under 30 feet in length. They must be wind-driven, or they can be a dinghy that moves moored vessels or moves between moored vessels.
The rules apply only to vessels under 15 hp. For those over that, nobody under the age of 16 can operate them. If there is a licensed person over the age of 18, then someone aged 16 or 17 can drive the vessel.
If you receive a moving violation of any type with any operator’s license, including your driver’s license, you must complete a boating safety course before you can resume driving a boat.
Ensuring you and others follow the rules for boat licensing can help to keep you safe on the waterways.