New boating law in New York

A new boating law in New York, referred to as “Brianna’s Law,” is now in effect as of Jan. 1, 2020. It requires all motorboat operators to complete a boating safety course. New age requirements began Jan. 1, with full compliance for all boaters by Jan. 1, 2025.

The older you are, the more time you will have to take the course. For Phase 1, all boat operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1993 must complete a state-sanctioned safety course to operate a motorized vessel starting this year. If you are born after Jan. 1, 1988, you will need to pass a safety course by 2022. If you were born after Jan. 1, 1983, you will need to pass a safety course by Jan. 1, 2023. If you were born after Jan. 1, 1978, you will need to pass a course by Jan. 1, 2024. Regardless of age, all others will be required to complete a state-approved boating safety course by Jan. 1, 2025. Failure to comply could result in a fine ranging from $100 to $250.

There are a few exceptions that are listed. One is if you are a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed charter captain. Another is if you are simply renting a boat. Everyone else should take a safety course within their allotted time frame.

As far as the actual courses, it’s a bit confusing. Under the parks website ( it specifically states that you cannot exchange a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boating safety certificate with a New York State boating safety certificate. However, the course does meet the state requirements for Brianna’s Law. Remember that you will also be able to receive a discount on your boating insurance, too.

In another section of the website, it states that the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons and U.S. Powerboating all offer approved courses. Check out Lists of classes can be found around the state.

Both in-classroom and online courses are available through the website. Only those sanctioned on the state parks website will qualify for the permanent boating safety certificate.

There could be fees involved when taking the course. Students must be at least 10 years of age. The in-room course has a minimum of 8 hours of instruction. All students 18 years of age and older will be required to pay $10 to the state for the issuance of a permanent boating safety certificate. If you lose it, it will cost $10 to replace it.

Online programs may be the way to go for many. When the law was passed, elected officials recognized that not everyone could make a traditional classroom course. Boaters should have access to the latest electronic technologies to complete their boater education requirements. Just make sure that the online class you select is acceptable to the state. Only those listed on the park’s website will be allowed.

If you travel out of state, New York’s boating safety certificate will meet the needs of most every state. However, what about a nonresident fisherman hauling his boat to fish into the Empire State? It states on the website that other state boater safety certificates can be used in New York from neighboring states (if it was approved by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators), but not everyone is required to take a safe boating class in their state. How will they be handled should they be stopped? How will New York get the word out to let nonresident boaters know what’s going on with the new law? We’re still looking for a few answers

I’ve been operating a boat since I was 12 Years old (let’s just say over 50 years ago), running my grandfather’s old 12-foot Sea King aluminum boat (a boat I still have) with a 9.9 Evinrude on the back – in the Adirondacks and in Lake Ontario. I’d like to think I can handle a boat well. However, I will be required to take the course by Jan. 1, 2025. While many long-time boaters will think this an inconvenience, it’s still the law now. You just might learn something that could make a difference in the future when on the water. Pass the word and let people know.

Categories: New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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