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Arkansas Personal Watercraft and Boating Law to Reduce Personal Injuries

An accident on Lake Hamilton two years ago led to a new Arkansas law that sets the minimum age of 16 for a solo operator of a personal watercraft in Arkansas. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission provides a good summary of the changes:

To operate any motorboat powered by an engine of 10 horsepower or more (including a personal watercraft):

A person under 12 years of age:
o Must satisfy the boating education requirement, and
o If operating a motorboat, must be under the direct visible and audible supervision of a parent, guardian or person over 17 years old.
o If operating a PWC, must have a person at least 21 on board and in a position to take immediate control of the PWC. That person must hold a boating education card if he or she was born after 1985.
A person 12 – 15 years of age:
o Must satisfy the boating education requirement, and
o If operating a PWC, must have a person at least 18 on board the PWC. That person must hold a boating education card if he or she was born after 1985.
A person 16 years of age or older must satisfy the boating education requirement if born after 1985..

Furthermore, it is illegal for the owner or person in control of a motorboat to allow someone who does not meet the age or boating education requirements to operate the vessel.

These Arkansas boating laws are meant to reduce personal injuries associated with boat and personal watercraft accidents in Arkansas. The law also makes the insurance company of the parents or other responsible parties potentially liable for the operation of the boat or personal watercraft. If you have been injured in an Arkansas boat accident or Arkansas personal watercraft accident, please contact the Pfeifer Law Firm to make sure your rights are protected.