Who wouldn’t enjoy a beautiful day out in the ocean, taking in the cool breeze and fresh air? Luckily for Californians, they have the luxury of boating year-round at their own leisure. In the state of California, residents enjoy a ride through the open ocean whenever they please, to get away from the busy life of the city or just to catch up on some fishing. For residents and even tourists, as long as you were over the age of 16, you could hop on a boat and drive away, without having any prior training experience or license.
Unfortunately, according to the Coast Guard in 2015, there were over 700 boating accidents, injuring more than 200 people and killing 49 and the majority of the boaters involved were not renters or tourists. This data encouraged the state of California and the Division of Waterways and Boating to take action.
Continue reading to learn about the new boating laws in California and how the state plans to keep their boaters safe.
New Boating Law
With new statistics available, it was apparent that the lack of education and training in the operation of a boat resulted in increased boating accidents. After realizing the risks and dangers of not requiring boaters to obtain licensure, California decided to pass a law. As of January of 2018, California put into effect a law requiring everyone under the age of 20 to obtain a boater card. The plan is to phase in all boaters by age group each year until everyone owning a boat obtains a California Boater Card. The goal is to have all boaters licensed by the year 2025; however, this law does not require renters to have a boaters license to operate a vessel as long as all renters receive a safety briefing before operating the boat. Boating safety is at the forefront of legislator’s mind, this new law will improve safety for everyone out on the ocean.
Boater Safety Course
Before you can take a cruise on your boat, you must first complete the boater safety course by a NASBLA or state-approved provider. Costs of the course can vary depending on the provider, ranging anywhere between $20-$50. Your safety course certification is valid for up to two years after completion, giving you ample time to apply for your California Boater Card. Classroom courses take no more than 8 hours to complete, while online courses can be completed in 3 hours.
The boater safety course is mandatory for all boaters who wish to receive their boating license. The course is intended to teach individuals about personal safety, accident prevention, boating guidelines, and laws. If you choose to take the Boater Safety Course at a later time, you will receive an application ID, but you will still not be able to receive your boaters ID until it is completed. Once this course is completed, boaters should be knowledgeable of basic boating instructions and operation
To find the list of approved boater safety courses, follow the link below:
Approved Boater Safety Courses
California Boater Card
The California Boater Card is licensure given by the state of California to verify that the boater has completed a boater safety course and has a basic knowledge of how to properly operate a boat. You are not able to receive your boat ID card without first completing the safety course. For only $10 you can receive a brand new card and replacement cards are only $5. When applying for the California Boater Card you will need to:
- Complete your application including all your personal information
- Provide proof of education
- Mail a copy of the certificate to:
- Department of Parks and Recreation
- Mail a copy of the certificate to:
Division of Boating and Waterways – California Boater Card
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001
- Or Upload an image of certification
- Pay boaters card fee
Once you have completed your application, you will receive a temporary boater card by email valid for 90 days and in 60 days your permanent ID card will arrive. You are now well on your way to living the boater dream.
You do not have to apply for California Boater Card if:
- You are operating a rental vessel.
- You are under the direct supervision of some 18+ with a Boater card.
- You are from another state/country temporarily operating a vessel for less than 60 days.
- You obtain a commercial fishing license.
Fines and Fees
Now that you know how everything there is to know about boater safety and applying for your boater id, here are some important fines and fees to know about. Your first conviction is a fine of $100, followed by a fine of $250 for your second offense. For three or more convictions, the boater will be fined of no more than $500. So before you decide to violate the law, remember the consequences and the potential danger you could cause to your fellow boaters.
California’s new law was made to protect the safety of all boaters so that they may continue to boat and enjoy the breeze in peace. Make sure you get ahead of the game and apply for your boater card today. Go ahead and get your boat on!
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