Before becoming the part of recreational boaters of California, you have to understand the critical changes in the boating laws of the state. Started on 1st January 2018, California implements new rules that require boaters to carry a boat operator card to operate recreational vessels with a motor on watercourses. The boat operator card of California is known as the California Boater Card.
California didn’t need boater certification to operate a motorized watercraft. The new legislation makes it necessary for boaters to complete their boating education. If you are planning to hit the water in the upcoming years, make sure to understand the boating laws of California.
Current Changes in Law
The changes in the boating laws of California starts from Senate 941 Bill, signed on 18 September 2014 by Jerry Brown (Governor). The bill mandates the safety education for boaters who want to operate motorized boats on California watercourses. Starting on 1st January 2018, the legislation is useful for young boaters under 20 years of age. The requirements of current law may gradually expand by 2025.
Reasons for Current Changes in Law
Increase in boating accidents is becoming a severe problem. California reported almost 48 deaths and 369 boating accidents in 2015. A maximum number of these incidents involve uneducated boaters (bring the boat in the water without completing a safety education course).
The purpose of Senate 941 Bill is to promote safety education courses in California. Boaters have to complete their safety training and pass written tests to get a Boater Card in California. The Californian government believes that approved courses for the safety of boaters can decrease accidents on the waterways.
Implementation of Law
The requirements of Boater Card California are implemented in 8 phases. The 1st phase started on 1st January 2018 and covered young boat operators (20-year old). At the start of each succeeding year, a new segment of the population will complete the procedure of education. See the rollout schedule.
- 1st January 2018: Folks 20 years of age or younger
- 1st January 2019: Folks 25 years of age and younger
- 1st January 2020: Folks 35 years of age and younger
- 1st January 2021: Folks 40 years of age and younger
- 1st January 2022: Folks 45 years of age and younger
- 1st January 2023: Folks 50 years of age and younger
- 1st January 2024: Folks 60 years of age and younger
- 1st January 2025: All folks irrespective of age
Possible Exceptions to New Law
The law has some exceptions for individuals who operate rental vessels. See these exceptions below:
- Foreigners or resident of other states can operate a rental vessel after meeting these requirements:
- The temporary use of water of California must not exceed 60 days. He/she should meet the valid requirements of his/her residential state.
- The boater is using waters of California temporary for a specific period less than 90 days, after meeting valid requirements of his/her residential country.
- A person can operate a vessel under the direct administration of an adult person. The supervisor must have a boat operator card allotted under Section 678 (subdivision (b)). An operator can operate a vessel without a card under paragraph (6).
- A person from a vessel race or organized regatta and water ski competition can operate a boat.
- A person can operate a rental boat.
- A person with a commercial license for fishing can operate a boat.
- If you have a valid operator marine license, you can use this license to operate a boat. The license of the USA Coast Guard is acceptable. Moreover, if a certificate is issued on standards of training to the International Convention, it is acceptable. The Watchkeeping and Certification for Seafarers (1978) are acceptable in California.
- After completing a boating course sanctioned by Commission on Peace Officer Standards & Training, a person can hit the water in California