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It's the Law

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

Requirements Specific to PWC

Each person riding on or being towed behind a PWC must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved wearable Type I, II, or III personal flotation device (PFD). Inflatable PFDs may not be used. See Personal Flotation Devices for PFDs age restrictions.

You may not allow a child under 7 years of age to ride on or be towed behind a PWC unless with a parent or guardian or a designee of the parent or guardian.

The lanyard of a PWC's engine cut-off switch must be attached to the person, clothing, or PFD of the operator.

It is illegal to operate a PWC during the period that begins at sunset and ends at 8:00 a.m. “Sunset” means that time determined by the National Weather Service.

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

  • Jump the wake of another vessel unnecessarily close to the other vessel.
  • Weave your PWC through congested traffic.
  • Swerve at the last possible moment to avoid collision.

A PWC must be operated at “slow, no wake speed” if crossing within 150 feet behind another vessel unless the other vessel is also a PWC.

You may not operate a PWC within 200 feet of a Great Lakes shoreline unless traveling at “slow, no wake speed” perpendicular to the shoreline.

You may not operate a PWC in waters less than two feet deep unless you are operating at “slow, no wake speed” or are docking or launching your PWC.

It is illegal to harass wildlife or disturb aquatic vegetation with your PWC.