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It's the Law


In addition to the laws mentioned previously, there are other Arizona regulations that apply on Arizona waterways.

Unlawful and Dangerous Operation


Arizona law designates these dangerous operating practices as illegal.

Negligent or Reckless Operation of a vessel is operating in a manner that causes danger to others or their property, such as:

  • Operating in a restricted area, such as a marked swimming area
  • Operating while passenger(s) are positioned in the bow such that the operator’s view is obstructed
  • Weaving through congested waterway traffic
  • Chasing, harassing, or disturbing wildlife
  • Teak surfing or platform dragging

Speed Restrictions require the operator to maintain a proper speed while operating a vessel. Specifically, it is illegal to:

  • Operate a vessel at speeds greater than are reasonable or proper given the existing waterway traffic, persons in the water, and weather conditions.
  • Exceed any posted speed limits.
  • Operate a vessel at greater than “wakeless speed” in a posted no wake zone.
  • Operate a vessel at speeds that may cause injury or damage to any other person, another vessel, or the property of others. This includes causing damage or danger from the wake of your vessel.

“No Wake Speed” or “Wakeless Speed” means a speed that does not create a wake and is never in excess of five miles per hour.

Riding on the Bow or Gunwales is allowing passengers to ride where there may be a chance of falling overboard while underway at greater than “no wake speed” on a powerboat. Specifically, this means allowing passengers to ride on the covered bow, transom, swim step, or gunwales unless these are designed for carrying passengers at all speeds.

Overloading is loading the vessel beyond its safe carrying capacity or the recommended capacity shown on the capacity plate. Take into consideration the weather and other operating conditions when determining if the vessel is overloaded.

Failure to Follow Navigational Rules is operating a vessel in violation of the navigational rules of Arizona waters.

  • Specifically, operators of vessels:
    • Must follow the navigational rules.
    • Must follow a counter-clockwise traffic flow.
    • Leaving shore must give way to approaching vessels.
  • An exception to these rules is waterways where power-driven vessels are prohibited.

Auxiliary Lighting: It is unlawful under federal and state laws to display any type of lights that can be mistaken for navigation lights or that obscure the visibility or interfere with the interpretation of any required navigation lights. Specifically, red, green, and white lights may only be displayed at night in configurations described in “Navigation Lights.” At no time may any blue lights be displayed because they are reserved exclusively for emergency or law enforcement vessels.

Remember—it is your responsibility to know the law.

On waterways shared with other states, such as the Colorado River, other states’ laws and federal regulations apply. Always know all applicable boating laws and regulations.

Unlawful and Dangerous Operation - Stand-On Vessel
Stand-On Vessel