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Houston Boating Laws & Regulations

Boating Laws & Regulations

Boating Laws & Regulations

Boating laws in Texas are focused on promoting safety, preventing accidents and saving lives. While these regulations set forth various requirements for boat operators, they also pertain to vessels and the mandatory safety equipment for them.

When boat operators and owners fail to comply with Texas boating laws:

  • They can put themselves, their passengers and others on the waterways at a greater risk of accident, injury and death.
  • They can be liable for any wrecks or harm resulting from their noncompliance and negligence.

At the Amaro Law Firm, our lawyers have extensive experience helping the victims of boating accidents pursue the financial recoveries they deserve. Diligent, skilled and tenacious, our attorneys can help you hold all negligent parties accountable for your boating accident.

Texas Boating Laws: Rules for Operators

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD)1 oversees and enforces boating laws throughout the state. For the operators of motorboats, TPWD regulations apply to issues like (but not limited to):

  • Boater education – Anyone born on or after September 1, 1993, is required to complete a Boater Education course in order to legally operate a personal watercraft (PWC) or a boat with a horsepower (hp) rating of at least 15 hp. Here is more information about Boater Education courses in Texas. Please note that you do not have to be a resident of Texas in order to take the Texas Boater Education course.
  • Boating while intoxicated – Those who have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater can be charged with boating while intoxicated (BWI), a criminal offense similar to driving while intoxicated. In other words, it is illegal to operate boats on Texas waterways with a BAC level of 0.08 or more. While drunk boat operators can face similar (if not the same) criminal penalties as drunk drivers, they can also be liable in civil court for the accidents and harm they cause.2
  • Reporting boating accidents in Texas – A boat operator who is involved in an accident will be legally required to report that accident to the TPWD or a local law enforcement agency:
    • Within 48 hours if the incident causes death
    • Within 30 days if the accident caused more than $2,000 in property damage or injuries needing medical treatment more extensive than first aid.

Please be aware that these boating regulations pertain to those operating recreational motorboats from the inside of the vessel. Different laws can apply to those operating personal watercraft (PWC), meaning someone operates the vessel via sitting, standing, or kneeling on it.3

Texas Boating Laws: Vessel Requirements
Protect the Value & Success of Your Boating Accident Claim: Contact a Houston Boat Accident Lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm