Water Play

Before You Leave the Dock


This write-up is in no way intended to be a ‘be all end all’ of boating laws for Alabama or Georgia.  It is my Reader’s Digest version of some of the more common ones which can get you pulled over.

One of the big things that will get you some attention is buzzing by docks, boathouses; people in the water, stopped boats, etc., – closer than 100′.  It is unsafe, un-thoughtful – and illegal.  It will get you a ticket pretty quick – plus the bonus of having your boat searched and being asked to blow.  These water stops can get quite hot during the summer months.

Check out the links listed below for more thorough information of the laws for Alabama and Georgia.  Remember – it doesn’t matter where you live or where your boat is registered – you are required to follow the laws of the state in which waters you are boating.


If you have not experienced the application of

“Probable Cause”

While boating on the lake – Then break one of these and you will very quickly understand the full extent of its meaning. The ones highlighted are just a few of which will get you pulled over for a “Safety Check”. And this means law enforcement automatically has the right to board and search your boat. This also means that if you are towing someone on skis or a float –They can be asked to ‘blow’ to check for alcohol.  If they – test .08 (in Georgia) they will most likely be arrested.


Be sure you have everything on board which is required.

Also – please observe the 100′ Law.  It is one which I find so many people have never heard of & one that is most commonly violated. Think about when you are in the water with your friends and family & some water vessel goes zipping by 50′ away from you. Everyone gets slapped by the waves and if you have your boat or Jet Ski nearby you have to jump to attention to keep it from hitting you or others. Please Be Courteous.

You can expect increased law enforcement presence on the water and the roads around the lake during holiday periods.




Be sure you have:


∙   Numbers & Decal on your Boat

∙   Boat Registration Documents

∙   Georgia Requires Driver’s ID – License, Gov’t Issued ID w/Photo (Effective     Jul 1, 2014 – if born on or after Jan 1, 1998 must Complete Boater Education)

∙  Alabama Requires Boating License

∙  Life Jacket/Personal Flotation Device (PFD)  for Each Person on Board*

∙  Children under 10 (8 in AL) are required to wear a PFD at all times

∙  Operators, Passengers & Those Being Towed on a Wave Runner, Jet Ski, i.e.,  Personal Water Craft (PWC) Must Wear a PFD

* Must be Coast Guard Approved

If this LABEL is MISSING, WORN or FADED, it is


* Attach a WHISTLE to your vest when driving a PWC

∙ Throw Able Flotation Device

∙ Kill Switch – ATTACHED to THE PERSON of anyone Driving a Boat Less Than 24’ with a Greater Than 50 HP Motor When Driving in Alabama Waters

∙ Fire Extinguisher (Must be Working)

∙ Sounding Device For Use in Inclement Weather or Reduced Visibility – Any Type

∙ Navigation Lights Must be ON From Dusk ‘til Dawn & in Limited Visibility – Check Them Before Leaving & Take Extras With You (It Helps to Keep a Flashlight)


*  Effective July 1, 2014, in Georgia all operators born after January 1, 1998, must have passed a boater education course approved by the Department of Natural Resources and have a card on board to operate any vessel.





∙ NO WAKE within 100’ of Docks, Boathouses, Moored or Boats Fishing

∙ No Skiing from Dusk ‘til Dawn & in Limited Visibility

∙ No Operating of PWC from Dusk ‘til Dawn& in Limited Visibility

∙ No Operating Boats or PWCs under the Influence of Alcohol

∙ No Under-age Possession of Alcohol

∙ Always Pass an On-Coming Vessel to The Right


Who Can Operate a Boat in Georgia?

Those less than 12 years of age:

∙ May not operate any vessel over 16 feet in length.

∙ May legally operate a vessel under 16 feet in length which is either non-motorized or powered by a motor of 30 horsepower or less only if they are accompanied by a competent adult.

Those 12 through 15 years of age:

  • May legally operate any vessel less than 16 feet in length, including a PWC only if they:
    – Have passed a boat education course approved by the Department of Natural Resources, OR
    – Are accompanied by a competent adult

∙ May not legally operate any vessel over 16 feet in length.

Those 16 years of age or older:

∙ May operate any boat on the waters of Georgia if they have proper identification onboard

All operators born after January 1, 1998 must have passed a boater education course approved by the Department of Natural Resources and have card on board to operate any vessel.



For a complete listing of Boating Rules/Laws go to:
Alabama: http://www.outdooralabama.com/boating/
Georgia: http://www.goboatgeorgia.com




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