July brings several changes to waterway boating laws

DNR Report

Columbus – Horsepower limitations on several Ohio lakes changed
as of July 1, according to the DNR.

Boats with motors greater than 10 horsepower will be allowed on
Knox Lake in Knox County, Lake La Su An in Williams County, Oxbow
Lake in Defiance County, and Rupert Lake in Vinton County as long
as they are operated at idle speed.

In addition, new regulations will allow gasoline motors with
ratings of 10 horsepower or less to operate on Zeppernick Lake in
Columbiana County, as well as Greenfield and Rock Mill lakes in
Fairfield County. Only electric motors were allowed on these lakes

The Ohio Wildlife Council voted in early March to increase the
horsepower limits on these state wildlife area lakes. The increase
will allow greater access and more sporting opportunities for
boaters and fishermen around the state.

Another administrative rule that took effect on July 1 allowed
the DNR Division of Watercraft to issue “contingent registrations”
to boaters when there are situations that would delay the
registration process. These registrations would be free of charge
and allow the boater to get out on the water while the division
conducts the reviews required to issue a standard registration.

State watercraft officers may also issue contingent registration
tags for newly purchased watercraft operating under the state’s
bill-of-sale provisions. These provisions grant a new owner
permission to operate a boat without Ohio numbers for a period of
either 30 or 45 days following purchase in order to allow time for
title and other transfer documents to be processed.

Contingent registration tags are good for 15 days from the date
of application or until the bill-of-sale provision ends. The
decision to issue a contingent registration lies solely with the
Division of Watercraft.

Also in June, Gov. Ted Strickland signed Senate Bill 271, which
had passed through the Ohio General Assembly to address several
boater safety issues across the state. It became effective
immediately upon the governor’s signature.

The new legislation creates the following changes in Ohio
boating laws:

€ Establishes “failure to control” as an enforceable boat
operator rule. Many accidents occur as the result of operator
inexperience or the forces of nature, according to the Division of
Watercraft. These are not the result of a “rules of the road”
violation or caused by reckless operation, but may result in minor
property damage or injury. Examples of situations encompassed by
the failure to control law include: over-compensation in strong
winds or currents, loss of steerage on jet boats when the throttle
is released, and attempting to maneuver under sail power alone
through congested areas like marinas that may result in an

€ Increases the horsepower limit on Pymatuning Lake in
northeastern Ohio to 20 horsepower (Ohio Outdoor News, June 20).
Approximately two-thirds of the lake is within the boundaries of
Pennsylvania, which passed legislation to allow for the increase
several years ago. The aim of this legislation is to remove the
confusion surrounding the Pymatuning Lake Compact and improve
boater safety.

€ Creates a “no wake” zone requiring boat operators to reduce
their speed when passing a boat actively engaged in providing
public service, including law enforcement, fireboats, search and
rescue teams, dredges, and towing services. This is similar to the
law requiring motorists to proceed with caution and change lanes or
slow down when approaching a stationary public safety vehicle
displaying an emergency light.

€ Permits boaters to “slow tow” ski tubes and other towables in
no-wake zones and areas outside of the designated speed and ski
zones. Enactment of this provision will create additional
recreational opportunities for individuals who are physically
unable to manage or do not desire the higher speeds of open

€ Allows children under 10 years of age, who board a watercraft
under 18 feet in length, to wear a swimsuit-style life jacket. The
children’s Type V personal flotation device was approved by the
U.S. Coast Guard several years ago and is designed to be more
comfortable and better suited to the activities of children
participating in family boating.

€ Allows for the transfer of electronic titles for outboard
motors. This provision reduces the time it takes to transfer titles
by preventing the need for a watercraft dealer to first issue a
physical title.

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