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What you need to know about Rhode Island boating laws

Karns & Kerrison

Rhode Island boaters need to be aware of the laws and regulations pertaining to themselves and their boats before taking off for an enjoyable day on the water.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has prepared a very helpful PowerPoint presentation setting forth specific boating statutes and regulations, including the following:

  • All boats must have at least one wearable personal flotation device for each person on board, and boats 16 feet or longer must have at least one throwable PFD. When not below deck or in a cabin, kids under 13 must wear an approved PFD.
  • Waterskiing is prohibited between one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise. The skier must wear an approved PFD and there must be an observer in the boat who is at least 12 years of age.
  • The use of personal water craft is prohibited between 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise. Riders must wear PFDs and the craft must have an attached engine cut-off lanyard.
  • In case of an accident, the operator of a boat must render aid unless it would put him or his vessel in danger and must give his written name, address, and vessel identification to anyone injured or who has suffered property damage.
  • If the accident resulted in injuries beyond those requiring basic first aid, the accident must immediately be reported to the DEM, Coast Guard, or local or state police.
  • Boating while intoxicated is strictly prohibited. Blood alcohol content must be no more than 0.07 percent.

The Handbook of Rhode Island Boating Laws and Responsibilities reminds boaters that safety is paramount since a boat has the potential to be extremely dangerous.


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