WASHINGTON Boating Laws and Regulations
WASHINGTON BOATER EDUCATION CARD
A Washington Boater Education Card is NOT the same thing as a Washington driver’s licence. The Washington Boater Education Card, more commonly known as a “boating license” is a card that proves that you have taken a boater safety course and gained the boating skill needed to operate a boat safely on Washington’s waterways. All of Washington’s boaters born after Dec. 31, 1954 are required to have a Boater Education Card in order to legally operate a boat on state waters.
OBTAINING YOUR WASHINGTON BOATING LICENSE
By taking the online BOATsmart! Course right here! You can register today, take the Washington Boating Safety Course, pass the Official Online Test and you can be on the water in just a few hours.
LIFE JACKET REQUIREMENTS IN WASHINGTON
All boats operating on Washington’s waters (including human-powered paddle craft such as kayaks and inflatable rafts) are required to carry one, Coast Guard Approved, wearable life jacket or PFD for each passenger on board the boat. Adults are not required to wear life jackets when boating. However, our suggestion is to always WEAR IT Washington! Especially if you’re boating in remote, white water or cold water areas.
Additionally, boats greater than 16 feet in length are also required to carry one, Coast Guard Approved, Type IV (throwable) device on board the boat at all times.
In the state of Washington, children 12 years of age and under are required to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket when underway on any boat under 19 feet in length, unless the the child is in a fully enclosed area, such as a cabin. Parents, make sure your child’s life jacket is properly secured and in good condition. It’s the law for kids to WEAR IT!
BOATING AND ALCOHOL IN WASHINGTON
It’s illegal in Washington to operate any boat (including any type of paddle craft) while under the influence of an intoxicating substance, such as drugs and/or alcohol.
In Washington, a boat operator will be considered to be under the influence if, within 2 hours of operating a boat, they have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 or higher, or if they exceed the legal limit for boating under the influence of marijuana of 5.0 nanograms, or if they are affected by an intoxicating substance, such as alcohol and/or drugs.
In Washington, a person convicted of operating under the influence will be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. This is a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for up to 364 days.
BOAT ACCIDENT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS IN WASHINGTON
If you’ve been involved in a boat accident in Washington, you’ll be required to submit a Boat Accident Report to the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in the area where the accident happened.
If a boat passenger is injured and required medical treatment beyond first aid, if a person is killed or if a person has disappeared from the boat, you must submit the formal Washington Boat Accident Report within 48 hours of the occurrence. Under any other circumstances, the boating accident report must be submitted within 10 days. Stay safe out there boaters!
You can obtain an official Washington Boat Accident Report Form from the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission or from the local law enforcement in the area where the accident happened.
WASHINGTON STATE PARKS & RECREATION COMMISSION INFORMATION
The BOATsmart! Washington Boating License Course has been approved by Washington State Parks. For more information, you can contact Washington State Parks at:
Washington State Parks
P.O. Box 42650
Olympia, WA 98504