Maine’s First Boating License Law To Take Effect in 2024
by Dick Greenan
By now, most of you have heard about the pending legislation that boaters younger than 25 would be required to pass an education and safety course prior to January 2024 in order to operate a boat on Maine’s lakes and rivers, excluding for the time being, the coastal waters. Well, it’s no longer pending and will now be the law, effective January 1, 2024.
Maine is one of the few states in the country that does not require boating licenses. Neighboring New Hampshire for example, has required anyone 16 years and older to obtain a boating license.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, those under age 25 are not the boaters getting in the most accidents or causing the most fatalities. But, Rep. Jessica Fay (D-Raymond), who sponsored the legislation (LD 1663) states that “Sometimes the best way to teach adults new things is by making sure that younger people understand the thing that we’re trying to learn”. Rep. Fay also notes that the legislation has gained the support of numerous lake associations, environmental and wildlife groups, and lakeside property owners.
Summary of the Law:
The law creates a mandatory boating safety course requirement for individuals born after January 1, 1999 for the operation of motorboats propelled by machinery over 25 horsepower on Maine waters beginning January 1, 2024. Basically, as of January 1, 2024, anyone born after January 1, 1999 and is at least 12 yrs. old, is required to satisfactorily complete the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (IF&W) adopted boating safety education certification program. This law also requires a mandatory boating safety course for an individual born after January 1, 1999 who wishes to operate a personal watercraft.
The law requires all operators of motor boats and jet skis (personal watercraft) to be educated on the state boating laws, and wildlife and environmental impacts, particularly the 200′ No-Wake Zone or risk fines and misdemeanor criminal charges for noncompliance.
Boaters who violate the new law will be fined between $100 and $500 per offense, and those with three or more violations in a five-year period could be charged with a Class E crime.
Due to many ambiguities, you will want to review the actual Law next year for any updates and/or log into the BLA website.
Maine Approved On-line Boating Safety Course
The suggested Maine Boat Ed Course is approved and accepted by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the United States Coast Guard, in addition to meeting standards of the National Recreational Boating Safety Program and the U.S. Boating Education Standards.
So, is Benjamin legal?
Fortunately, although Benjamin is only 15 years old, he is driving an 8 hp Evinrude, well under the 25 hp minimum. By the way, Ben also satisfies the 10 year old lifejacket requirement.