Boating Laws Tips

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Are there laws regarding boat trailers and towing?

Abide By Local Laws

You may consider yourself a safe boater if you follow all local laws while out on the water. But, towing and trailer laws are essential as well, and must be followed when moving your boat from one location to another. What areas should you be aware of? The following are towing and trailer items that you should check out before you move your boat:

*Does the total weight of your boat exceed the trailer's maximum capacity load?

*What requirements does your state have regarding warning lights on your trailer?

*What laws exist regarding brakes on your trailer?

Your trailer dealer may be able to help you answer these questions. If not, consult your state motor vehicle department.

What if I accidentally buy a defective boat?

Is Your Boat A Lemon?

There's nothing that will take the fun out of boating faster than too many trips to the repair shop. You should know that you may be protected against owning what is referred to as a "lemon." A lemon is a boat that has spent too many days in the shop, or has had the same repair too many times. Boat lemon laws vary state to state. Most educated consumers can figure out if they have a lemon by researching these laws. However, do not hesitate to ask a qualified attorney for advice as some lemon laws might be more complicated than others.

How do I prevent a boating accident

Look Out For Other Boats

Anyone who has been out on the open water knows not all boat owners are responsible ‘drivers.' But, you should be aware that the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules require you to look out for other boats in any and all situations. This rule applies to one-man crews, unmanned crafts and recreational boats of all kinds. You are responsible for deciding the best look-out location on your boat. You should focus on choosing a place that allows you to easily hear and observe approaching objects from all directions.

Am I required to report a boat accident?

Reporting A Boating Accident

Hundreds of boating accidents happen each year but only a small percentage of non-fatal accidents are reported. While boating laws vary state by state, be aware that you are responsible for reporting certain kinds of boating accidents, including those that involve a fatality, injuries that require more than basic first aid, and significant property damage. The amount of property damage requiring an accident report will be different based on your state, but it can be as low as $100.

How much time do I have to report a boating accident?

Time Allowed Before Reporting A Boating Accident

If you are boating and have an accident, or if you see someone else have an accident, you are required by law to report it to your local boating authority. This report must be filed within 48 hours if someone requires medical attention beyond first aid, and within 24 hours if someone is fatally injured. You are also required to file a boating accident report within 10 days if there is significant damage to a boat. If you aren't sure who to call to report a boating accident, contact the U.S. Coast Guard.

If no one is hurt why do I have to report an accident?

Reporting A Boat Accident

There are well over 10,000,000 recreational boating vehicles registered across the country, and this number will likely continue to grow. With so many boats out on the open water, accidents are a serious concern for lawmakers. When someone files a boating accident report, the information is used to develop safety laws and manufacturing standards, as well as safety education programs. That way, the data you provide might prevent someone else from getting hurt or killed.

Do I have to report an accident if no one else was involved?

State Boating Authority

Whether you're a novice or advanced boater, safety always comes first. But, even in the best of circumstances, boating accidents occur. Check with your state boating authority regarding accident reporting requirements. For example, if you run your new boat into a log—and significant damage occurs—you may be liable to report it, even if no one was hurt.

What laws apply to Boats?

Universal Laws To Boating

There are laws that govern boats just as there are laws that govern cars. Some laws actually apply to both. Once on the water, you are also subject to various boat laws. These are fairly simple. Observe no-wake areas, no drinking and operating, enough life jackets, etc. Many jurisdictions provide you a copy of the specific laws that apply upon registering your boat. Most importantly, when in doubt about a law, ask a police officer, or other legal representative. It's always better safe than sorry.

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Sheri Ann Richerson