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Rules for legal boating in Rhode Island

Karns & Kerrison

While it may look easy to cruise across the lake in a boat, driving any watercraft requires knowledge and training. Lawmakers in Rhode Island want to make sure all drivers are capable of safely operating their vehicle, whether they are on land or water. There are several stipulations that have been put in place to ensure the safety of everyone on the water.

First, some drivers will be required to complete boating safety courses. Boat-Ed.com states that not all drivers must complete this, but only those whose birthday is Jan. 1, 1986, or later. Once the requirements are completed, the driver will be given a Boater Education Card that must be carried and shown to law enforcement officers to prove driver eligibility. Drivers should carry this card when boating in states other than Rhode Island as well since many states require boater education. Fines can be given if drivers do not have the card, even if they have completed the education. It should be noted that only watercraft that have more than 10 horsepower require drivers to receive instruction.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles, the mandatory instruction does not provide a boat operator with a license. Instead, they receive a Boater Education Card, which they are required to carry while driving. There are a few exceptions to this rule, including visitors from other states who are qualified to operate watercraft in their home state as well as licensed commercial vessel operators. Also, drivers of any age who are in training for a certificate must have a Boater Safety Education carded adult over 18 years old on board the watercraft to supervise. 

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