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Obey laws when you head out on the boat

Staff Report • Apr 9, 2012 at 8:29 AM

Yes, it’s still early spring, but many local residents are already enjoying one of the region’s favorite pastimes of the summer: boating. But before you take to the water, officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says it’s important to take time to review all state licensing and safety regulations.

The TWRA says Tennesseans should pay particular attention to several state boating laws before setting sail. To operate a boat in Tennessee, state law requires anyone born after Jan. 1, 1989, to have a TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate as proof of successful completion of the TWRA Boating Safety exam. No other certificate is accepted as meeting the requirements of the law.

In addition, people younger than 12 may not operate a powered boat in Tennessee unless they are accompanied by an adult.

It’s important to be sober while on the lake. It’s against the law to operate boats while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Those convicted of operating a boat under the influence will face fines of up to $2,500 on the first offense, $2,500 on the second offense and $5,000 for the third offense.

Reckless operation of a vessel is one of the most serious offenses in Tennessee boating law, with violations punishable by a fine of $2,500 and six months in jail. State law defines reckless behavior as operating a vessel in swimming areas, operating an overloaded boat or traveling at excessive speed in crowded areas.

Finally, remember if you are operating a vessel on the water or just along for the ride, state law requires that you wear an approved flotation device while you are on board.

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