Boating Rules and Regulations
Who may operate a boat?
Those less than 12 years of age:
May legally operate a boat powered by a motor of no more than 6 horsepower without restrictions.
May legally operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 6 horsepower, but no more than 35 horsepower, only if they:
have been issued a boating safety certificate and have it on board and
are directly supervised on board by a person at least 16 years of age.
May not legally operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 35 horsepower legally under any conditions.
Those born on or after July 1, 1996, may legally operate a motorized boat over 6 horsepower only if they have been issued a boating safety certificate and have it in their possession.
Those born before July 1, 1996, may legally operate a boat without restrictions.
Who may operate a personal watercraft?
Those less than 14 years of age may not legally operate a personal watercraft (PWC) (i.e., jet ski, wave runner).
Those 14 and 15 years of age may legally operate a PWC if they have obtained a boating safety certificate and are:
Accompanied on board by their parent, legal guardian or by a person who has been designated by the parent or legal guardian and is at least 21 years of age; or
Operating or riding the PWC at a distance of not more than 100 feet from their parent legal guardian or by a person who has been designated by the parent or legal guardian and is at least 21 years of age.
Those at least 16 years of age and born after Dec. 31, 1978, may legally operate a PWC only if they have obtained a boating safety certificate.
Those born on or before Dec. 31, 1978, may operate a PWC legally without restrictions.
Who needs to wear a life jacket ?
All vessels must be equipped with USCG-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs), also known as life jackets. The quantity and type depend on the length of your vessel and the number of people on board and/or being towed. Michigan life jacket laws include the following:
All vessels must be equipped with a PFD for each person on board or being towed.
A vessel that is less than 16 feet long, or is a canoe or kayak, must have either a wearable PFD (Type I, II, or III) or a throwable PFD (Type IV) for each person on board.
All children under 6 years of age must wear a USCG-approved Type I or II PFD when riding on the open deck of any vessel while underway.
The USCG requires that all vessels have at least one Type I, II or III PFD that is USCG-approved, wearable and of the proper size for each person on board or being towed. Sizing for PFDs is based on body weight and chest size.
In addition to the above requirements, one USCG-approved throwable device must be on board vessels 16 feet or longer and be readily accessible.
Each person riding on a PWC or being towed behind a PWC or other vessel must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II or III personal flotation device. Inflatable PFDs are not allowed on PWC or while being towed behind PWC or other vessels.
All PFDs must be in good and serviceable condition and must be readily accessible.