South Dakota Boating Laws and Regulations

Age and Operator Restrictions

No person under 12 years of age may operate a motorboat propelled by a motor of more than 6 hp unless there is a person 18 years of age or older on board the motorboat.

No person under the age of 14 may operate a personal watercraft, regardless of horsepower, unless there is a person 18 years of age or older on board the PWC.


South Dakota law enforcement officers patrol the waterways to make your boating experience safe and pleasant. Cooperate with them by following the laws and guidelines.

Carry the Card: Vessel operators who are required to have a Boater Education Card must carry the card on board the vessel and have it available for inspection by an enforcement officer.

Penalty: Not carrying your Boater Education Card when one is required can result in a fine.


For visiting boaters, all states, territories, and provinces will recognize boating education cards that meet NASBLA requirements and Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Cards that meet Transport Canada’s requirements. (This is known as “reciprocity.”)

Need help? Here are the answers to the questions South Dakota Boating students most frequently ask.

South Dakota Frequently Asked Questions