143035_DBW Course_r3

Chapter 2 X Boating Law, Navigational Rules and Navigational Aids

Officer Authority Every peace officer of the state, city, county or harbor district is empowered to enforce general boating laws, navigation regulations, and local restrictions. Peace officers have the authority to stop and board any vessel where the peace officer has probable cause to believe that a violation of state law or regulations or local ordinance exists. The use of a distinctive blue light is reserved for law enforcement vessels. Any vessel approaching, overtaking, being approached, or being overtaken by a moving law enforcement vessel operating with a siren or an illuminated blue light, shall immediately slow, safely alter its course, and proceed at a reduced speed until beyond the area of operation of the law enforcement vessel. Every vessel underway and lawfully ordered to stop by a peace officer or harbor policeman shall stop immediately and permit the peace officer or harbor police vessel to come alongside. Peace officers can order the operator of an unsafe vessel to shore. A vessel can be ordered to the nearest safe moorage if an unsafe condition is found that cannot be corrected on the spot and the officer believes continued operation of the vessel could be hazardous. Court-Ordered Boating Education ƒ Any person convicted of any moving violation in the Harbors and Navigation Code, the Federal Navigation Rules and regulations adopted by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) while operating a vessel, must be ordered by the court to complete and pass a boating safety course approved by DBW. ƒ Proof of completion and passage of the course must be submitted to the court within seven months of the time of the conviction. California Boater Card Mandatory Education Requirement Enacted in 2014, the mandatory education requirement is more commonly known as the California Boater Card program. It prohibits the operation of any motorized vessel in California without a valid DBW-issued Boater Card. This program is being phased in by age, and by 2025 all operators will be required to carry a California Boater Card when on state waters. U.S. Coast Guard boating accident data shows that states with some form of boating safety education have fewer accidents and fatalities than states without any boater education requirements. In California, since implement ing boating education requirements, accidents and fatalities have begun to decrease. In 2020, there were 629 recreational boating accidents reported and 39 fatalities compared with 724 reported accidents and 49 deaths in 2015. More boaters taking approved safety courses will benefit all California recreational boaters.


Under the law, no person shall operate a vessel, or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or similar device in a reckless or negligent manner, endangering life, limb or property.

WEBSITE To apply for a California Boater Card, or to see a list of approved courses, visit CaliforniaBoaterCard.com or scan the QR code.


California Course for Safe Boating

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