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It's the Law


In addition to the laws mentioned previously, here are some other Georgia regulations that apply when boat and personal watercraft (PWC) operators are on the water.

Unlawful and Dangerous Operation


These dangerous operating practices are illegal in Georgia.

Reckless Operation of a boat or PWC is the disregard for the safety of persons or property. Examples are:

  • Water-skiing or dropping water-skiers close to swimmers, launching ramps, or other boaters
  • Jumping the wake of another boat within 100 feet of that boat or buzzing other boats
  • Causing damage from the wake of your boat or PWC

Improper Distance is not maintaining a proper distance while operating a boat or PWC or while towing a person on water skis or any similar device. The following operations are illegal.

  • Operating a boat or PWC or towing a person on water skis or any similar device at greater than idle speed within 100 feet of a:
    • Moored or anchored boat or any boat that is adrift
    • Dock, pier, or bridge
    • Person(s) in the water
    • Shoreline adjacent to a full- or part-time residence
    • Public park or beach or a swimming area
    • Marina, restaurant, or other public use area
  • Running around or within 100 feet of another boat at greater than idle speed unless you are overtaking or meeting the other boat in compliance with the rules for encountering other boats
  • Following closely behind another boat, jumping the wake of the other boat, or changing course or direction in order to jump the wake of another boat

Failure to Regulate Speed is operating a boat or PWC at speeds that may cause danger, injury, damage, or unnecessary inconvenience either directly or by the effect of the boat’s wake. It is illegal to:

  • Fail to regulate your speed near swimming areas, docks, moored boats, and boats engaged in fishing.
  • Operate a boat or PWC faster than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions (weather or boat traffic).

“Idle Speed” means…

you operate your boat or PWC at the slowest speed at which it is still possible to maintain steering control.

Overloading is loading the boat beyond the recommended capacity shown on the capacity plate installed by the boat manufacturer.

Riding on the Bow or Gunwale is illegal if the boat is not equipped with a railing or some other retaining device. As a boat operator, you are prohibited from allowing your passengers to ride on the bow or gunwale.

Boaters riding on the bow
It is illegal to ride on the bow or gunwales while the boat is moving.