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Personal Watercraft Safety Law Summary

A summary of important Personal Watercraft laws and safety rules.

Personal Watercraft (PWC) Defined

A personal watercraft is a Class A inboard motorboat.

Basic boating safety rules and laws

Follow basic boating safety rules and laws, and protect your privilege to operate personal watercraft.

  • Wear an approved life preserver (PFD) at all times.

  • Attach the safety lanyard to yourself and the cutoff switch.

  • Check throttle control and steering before starting engine.

  • Steering PWC requires thrust, maintain speed when turning.

  • Always operate at slow, no-wake speed (6MPH or less) when within 150 feet of the following:

    • Swimmer

    • Watercraft

    • Raft or Float

    • Shoreline

    • Boat launch

    • Moored or docked boat

    • Never operate at all, within 150 feet of any bathing beach.

  • No person shall operate a PWC except in a safe and prudent manner, so as not to endanger life, limb, or property. The following are examples of negligence or other prohibited operation:

    • Operating if less than 16 years old

    • Operating during the nighttime

    • Operating on waters under 75 acres

    • Operating under the influence of alcohol

    • Operating at high speed in congested areas

    • Operating while towing a skier, or any person in any manner

Please note: This is only a summary of Personal Watercraft laws, which are subject to change. You must know and observe all local, state, and federal laws. For further information on Personal Watercraft laws contact Massachusetts Environmental Police.

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