Laws imposed on motor vehicles are not only limited to those in roads and highways but also boats in bodies of water. Boating Laws in Texas have a different approach, and it is essential to be knowledgeable not only in Driving Laws but Boating Laws as well.
Texas Boating Education
Some states require boaters to complete a Boater Education Course while some others don’t. Texas is one of those that impose Mandatory Boater Education.
The following individuals are required to complete a Boating Education Course:
- Those born on the 1st of September, 1993 and onwards
- Those who will be operating motorboats with over 15 horsepower (HP)
- Those who are to work on windblown vessels such as sailboats of over 14 feet
- Those who will use PWCs or Personal Watercrafts which are also known as jet skis, water scooters or boater cycles
Any individual born before the 1st of September is not required to take the Boating Education Course, but acquiring and completing the course can reduce the costs of insurance. Individuals need to be at least 13 years of age to take the Boating Education Course. One doesn’t need to be a resident of Texas to take the course.
Those aged under 13 years of age need supervision of an adult to operate a boat. The adult needs to be 18 years of age, can lawfully operate the boat used and must be on board with the young operator while the underaged boater controls the watercraft.
An individual aged 13 years old and above are eligible to operate without the supervision of an adult provided they have acquired a Boater Education card. Those who passed a Boater Education Course recognized by the TPWD or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will receive a Boater Education Card. He/she is required to have their BEC with them at all times as well as a photo ID since Texas Law Enforcement officers may request for this during an inspection. Failure to do so can result in penalties such as a fine.
Boating and Alcohol
BUI or Boating under the Influence of alcohol have some distinct similarities with DWI or Driving While Intoxicated. If your BAC or Blood Alcohol Content is at 0.08 or over, you will be charged, with a Class B Misdemeanor. The minimum jail time for this is at least 72 hours.
If one refuses to undergo BAC testing and is operating a 50HP or higher, he will receive an automatic suspension of their license for 180 days for first offenders.
Boaters are allowed to have open alcoholic beverages in their passenger seats. However, if caught with an open container, you may be questioned about potential intoxication.
Boating Accidents and Reporting
Accidents can also happen while operating boats just like those motorists on land. Both have a moral obligation to report an accident, stay and provide assistance most especially if you are involved in the said accident.
The following needs to be reported within 30 days of the accident to the TPWD:
- If death occurred within 48 hours after the incident
- If the accident caused injury to someone that required treatment more than a regular first aid
- If the accident causes more the $2,000 in damage to property to other watercrafts
It is best to abide by all these rules if you want a smooth and enjoyable boating experience in Texas. If, in any case, one is in trouble for being involved in Boating Accidents or BUIs, a great lawyer or firm is only call away, if you know where to look.