Table of Contents

Download the PDF Version

It's the Law


Personal watercraft (PWC) operators must adhere to additional legal requirements that apply specifically to the operation of PWCs on Indiana waters.

Requirements Specific to PWCs


IC 14-15-12-1
“Individual” defined

Sec. 1. As used in this chapter, “individual” means an individual human being.

 

As added by P.L.57-1995, SEC.9.

 


IC 14-15-12-2/ IC 14-8-2-202 (a)
“Person” defined

Sec. 202. (a) “Person” means, except as provided in subsections (b) through (j), an individual, a partnership, an association, a fiduciary, an executor or administrator, a limited liability company, or a corporation.

 

IC 14-15-12-3/ IC 14-8-2-202.5
“Personal watercraft” defined

Sec. 202.5. “Personal watercraft”, for purposes of IC 14-15, means a watercraft:

  1. whose primary source of motive power is an inboard motor powering a water jet pump; and
  2. that is designed to be operated by a person who sits, stands, or kneels on the surface of the watercraft rather than sitting or standing inside the watercraft.

As added by P.L.57-1995, SEC.7.

 


IC 14-15-12-4/ IC 14-8-2-226
“Public waters”

Sec. 226. “Public waters”, for purposes of IC 14-15, means every lake, river, stream, canal, ditch, and body of water that is:

  1. subject to the jurisdiction of the state; or
  2. owned or controlled by a public utility.

As added by P.L.1-1995, SEC.1.

 


IC 14-15-12-5
Additional requirements and prohibitions

Sec. 5. The requirements and prohibitions set forth in this chapter concerning personal watercraft are in addition to the requirements and prohibitions set forth in IC 14-15-3 and IC 14-15-8.

 

As added by P.L.57-1995, SEC.9.

 


IC 14-15-12-6
Operation while facing rear prohibited

Sec. 6. A person shall not operate a personal watercraft on public waters while facing the rear of the personal watercraft.

 

As added by P.L.57-1995, SEC.9.

 


IC 14-15-12-7
Restrictions on water activities

Sec. 7. A personal watercraft shall not be used on public waters to tow individuals engaged in waterskiing, aquaplaning, or similar activities, unless:

  1. the personal watercraft is at least nine (9) feet long;
  2. the personal watercraft is designed to seat at least three individuals; and
  3. an individual other than the operator of the personal watercraft is aboard the personal watercraft, acting as an observer.

As added by P.L.57-1995, SEC.9. Amended by P.L.28-1998,
SEC.1.

 


IC 14-15-12-8
Personal flotation devices

Sec. 8. A person shall not operate a personal watercraft on public waters unless every individual:

  1. operating;
  2. riding on; or
  3. being towed by;

the personal watercraft is wearing a personal flotation device that meets the requirements for designation by the United States Coast Guard as a Type I, Type II, Type III, or Type V personal flotation device, if applicable.

 

As added by P.L.57-1995, SEC.9. Amended by P.L.38-2000, SEC.5; P.L.24-2001, SEC.2.

 


IC 14-15-12-9
Self-circling capability

Sec. 9. A personal watercraft that does not have self-circling capability shall not be operated on public waters unless:

  1. the personal watercraft is equipped with a lanyard type engine cutoff switch; and
  2. the lanyard is attached to the person, clothing, or personal flotation device of the operator.

As added by P.L.57-1995, SEC.9.

 


IC 14-15-12-10
Reasonable and prudent operation

Sec. 10. (a) A personal watercraft operated on public waters must at all times be operated in a reasonable and prudent manner.

 

(b) A person shall not operate a personal watercraft on public waters in a way that endangers human life, human physical safety, or property.

 

(c) A person shall not do any of the following while operating a personal watercraft on public waters:

  1. Weave through congested watercraft traffic in a way that endangers human life, human physical safety, or property.
  2. Follow a watercraft that is towing an individual on:
    1. water skis;
    2. a surf board; or
    3. another water sport device;
    in a way that endangers human life, human physical safety, or property.
  3. Jump the wake of another watercraft in a way that endangers human life, human physical safety, or property.
  4. Cut between a boat and the individual or individuals being towed by the boat.
  5. Cross paths with another watercraft when visibility around the other watercraft is so obstructed as to endanger human life, human physical safety, or property.
  6. Steer a personal watercraft toward an object or individual in the water and turn sharply at close range in a way that endangers human life, human physical safety, or property.

As added by P.L.57-1995, SEC.9.

 


IC 14-15-12-11
Unlawful authorization to operate watercraft

Sec. 11. A person who:

  1. owns a personal watercraft; or
  2. has charge over or control of a personal watercraft;

shall not authorize or knowingly permit the personal watercraft to be operated in violation of this chapter.

 

As added by P.L.57-1995, SEC.9.

 


IC 14-15-12-12
Nonapplicability

Sec. 12. Sections 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 of this chapter do not apply to:

  1. a performer engaged in a professional exhibition; or
  2. a person participating in a regatta, a race, a marine parade, a tournament, or an exhibit; that is held in compliance with rules adopted by the natural resources commission.

As added by P.L.57-1995, SEC.9.

 


IC 14-15-12-13
Violations

Sec. 13. (a) A person who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly violates section 10 of this chapter commits a Class C misdemeanor.

 

(b) A person who violates section 6, 7, 8, 9, or 11 of this chapter commits a Class C infraction.

 

As added by P.L.57-1995, SEC.9.

 


Each person riding on or being towed behind a PWC must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved wearable personal flotation device. Recommended are PFDs designed to withstand the impact of hitting the water at high speed.

PWCs must either be equipped with an ignition safety switch or have a self-circling feature in case the operator falls off. An operator of a PWC equipped with a lanyard type ignition safety switch must always attach the lanyard to his or her person, clothing, or PFD.

PWCs may be operated during daylight hours only unless equipped with the appropriate lighting.

It is illegal to operate a personal watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

You must operate a PWC in a reasonable and prudent manner. It is illegal to endanger human life, safety, or property. You may not:

  • Weave through congested traffic.*
  • Follow a vessel that is towing other individuals.*
  • Jump the wake of another vessel.*
  • Cut between a vessel and an individual being towed.*
  • Cross paths with another vessel when vision is obstructed.*
  • Steer toward an object or person in the water and turn sharply at close range.*
  • Operate while facing backwards.

*Should you be ticketed by an enforcement officer for one of these crimes, you could have points assessed against your driver’s license (140 IAC 1-4.5-10).