It's the Law


PWC operators must obey laws that apply to other vessels as well as obeying additional requirements that apply specifically to the operation of PWC.

Requirements Specific to PWC


Every person on board a PWC must wear a USCG-approved life jacket (PFD).

Everyone on board or being towed behind a PWC must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD at all times. Inflatable PFDs are not to be worn on PWC.

An operator of a PWC equipped with a lanyard-type engine cut-off switch must attach the lanyard to his or her person, clothing, or PFD.

PWC may not be operated during the hours between one half-hour after sunset to one half-hour before sunrise. Due to navigation light requirements, PWC without navigation lights may operate only between sunrise and sunset.

No one under the age of 14 years may operate any PWC.

No one under the age of 18 years may rent or lease a PWC.

A PWC must be operated in a reasonable and prudent manner. It is illegal to:

  • Weave your PWC through congested waterway traffic.
  • Swerve at the last possible moment in order to avoid collision (as in spraying another person or vessel, or playing "chicken").
  • Jump the wake of another vessel unreasonably or unnecessarily close to that vessel or when visibility is obstructed.