Frequently Asked Questions About Boating Laws
Do I have to take a Boater Education Course?
If you were born on or after September 1, 1993, yes, you must complete a Boater Education course to operate a PWC or a boat with a horsepower rating of more than 15 hp.
See Boater Education requirements at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/boater_education/
Does the "Open Container" law apply when I'm in my boat?
No. This law, effective 9/1/2001, prohibits the possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. It does not apply to watercraft.
Can my driver's license be suspended if I'm arrested for operating a boat while intoxicated?
Yes. Effective 9/1/2001, a person's drivers license will be automatically suspended if the arrested person:
- Is operating a watercraft powered with an engine having a manufacturer's rating of 50 horsepower or above; and
- The person refuses to provide a specimen (breath or blood) to determine intoxication.
The period of suspension for 1st time offenders is 180 days.
To whom do I report a boating accident?
It is the responsibility of each boat operator who is involved in an accident to contact TPWD or your nearest law enforcement agency of the accident within 30 days of the incident if:
- Results in death; (within 48 hours) or
- Injuries to a person requiring medical treatment beyond first aid; or
- Causes damage to vessel(s) or property in excess of $2000.00
To report an accident contact your local game warden, local law enforcement agency, or call TPWD 24 hour police communications operator at (512) 389-4848.
How do I find out if there are any special water safety regulations on a lake I want to visit?
The rules in the Texas Water Safety Act apply to all public water in Texas. The local governing body of incorporated cities or towns, county commissioners courts, and political subdivisions can pass rules relating to restricted areas and the operation and equipment of boats it deems necessary for the public safety. You must contact the entity in charge to determine if any special rules apply. Find the local governing entity for a specific water body.