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It's the Law


In addition to the laws mentioned previously, here are some other Idaho regulations that apply when vessel operators are on the water.

Unlawful Operation


In Idaho, these dangerous operating practices are illegal.

Negligent Operation of a vessel is the failure to exercise the care necessary to protect the rights, safety, or property of others.

Some examples of negligent operation are:

  • Boating in an area where buoys or other markers clearly mark a swimming area or some other restricted area
  • Becoming airborne while crossing the wake of another vessel at an unsafe distance from the vessel creating the wake
  • Weaving through congested waterway traffic
  • Swerving at the last possible moment in order to avoid a collision
  • Causing danger or damage from the wake of your vessel
  • Chasing, harassing, or disturbing wildlife with your vessel
  • Riding on a seat back, gunwale, transom, or bow

Remember—vessel owners are responsible …

As the owner of a vessel, you are liable if you consent to allow others to operate your vessel and they do so in an illegal or unsafe manner. It is presumed the vessel is being operated with your consent when it is under the control of your spouse, father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, or other immediate member of your family.

Failure to Regulate Speed is operating at speeds that are too fast for the operator to bring the vessel to a stop within an assured clear distance ahead. It is illegal to exceed any posted speed limits.

Specifically, the following acts are illegal:

  • Operating at a speed greater than “no wake speed” (maximum of five miles per hour) while within 100 feet of a dock, a swimmer, or a person in the water except when:
    • Safely pulling a water-skier from a dock
    • Safely dropping a water-skier at or near a dock
    • The swimmer or other person in the water is the vessel’s skier

“No Wake Speed” or “Idle Speed”—This is the slowest speed at which it is still possible to maintain steering, not to exceed five miles per hour.

  • Operating at a speed and proximity to another vessel that requires the other operator to swerve at the last moment to avoid a collision

Overloading or Overpowering is exceeding the carrying capacity or power limitations stated on the capacity plate installed by the vessel manufacturer, even if the vessel is a kayak or an inflatable raft.

  • You must not exceed the maximum allowed number of persons, maximum allowed pounds of persons, or maximum allowed combined persons and equipment.
  • If your vessel is powered by an outboard motor, you must not exceed the allowed horsepower.
Unsafe Operation
Do not allow passengers to ride where there may be a chance of the person falling over the side or out of the vessel.