It's the Law


Wisconsin Conserveration Warden badge

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources logo

Wisconsin conservation wardens, county sheriffs, and municipal police enforce the boating laws of Wisconsin. U.S. Coast Guard officers also patrol and have enforcement authority on federally controlled waters.

It is illegal to refuse to follow the directive of a person with law enforcement authority.

  • A vessel operator who has received a visual or audible signal from a patrol boat must reduce speed to “slow, no wake speed” and give way to the patrol boat. (See Unlawful Operation for a definition of “slow, no wake speed.”)
  • A vessel operator must stop when requested or signaled to do so by a law enforcement officer or a patrol boat.
  • In addition to yielding and stopping for a law enforcement patrol boat when signaled to do so, it is strongly suggested that you reduce speed to “slow, no wake speed” and stay at least 100 feet from a law enforcement patrol boat with its emergency lights activated when it is contacting another boat on the water. You create a safe environment for law enforcement officers and the boat occupants they are contacting when you do so. Wisconsin law enforcement officers conducting boat patrols appreciate your cooperation in this area.
  • Federal waters include: Coastal waters; the Great Lakes (Lake Michigan and Lake Superior); territorial seas (Lake Winnebago); waters which are two miles wide or wider and are connected directly to one of the above, including the Mississippi River, and portions of the Wisconsin, St. Croix, Wolf, and Fox Rivers.