Dangerous Moves

Operators of PWC who perform the following dangerous moves are in violation of the California Boating Law and can be cited for reckless or negligent operation. Citations may involve a fine and/or have a negative impact on your driving record. Local law enforcement may “terminate” your ride, this means you may be forced to leave the waterways for the day or longer.

• Tagging and turning. This involves sharp and erratic turns in close proximity to other vessels.
• Overtaking another vessel at high speeds.
• Wake jumping within 100 feet of another vessel. Not only is a collision a possibility, but you may not be able to see someone or something on the other side of the wake.
• Spraying your friends, other vessels or people in the water.
• Following other boaters too closely. Leave a safe distance to allow time to maneuver and avoid a collision.
• Riding too closely beside another rider. An unpredicted turn, unexpected wave action or other event could cause a collision.
• Operating your PWC in the wake of another boat. The water may be aerated which can affect your steering and maneuverability.
• Chasing another PWC in small circles.

These types of activities increase the risk of accidents. The potential danger and almost certain annoyance to others may leave them with a bad impression. This can lead to conflicts on the water and efforts to ban or restrict PWC use on the waterways.

Here are a few moves that are AGAINST THE LAW!

• Unsafe and reckless operation
• Jumping another vessel's wake within 100 ft. of the vessel creating the wake.
• Speeding in excess of 5 mph within 200 ft. of a beach or within 100 ft. of swimmers.
• Operating the PWC toward any person or vessel in the water and turning sharply at close range so as to "spray down" another person or vessel.
• Operating a PWC at night is illegal.

Wear Your Life Jacket!

Each person on board a PWC must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. A life jacket should provide enough buoyancy to keep you afloat until help comes. Therefore:

Check that the life jacket is a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type III or Type V.

Check that the life jacket is appropriate for your weight and chest size.

Check that it is properly fitted and fully clipped or zipped up.

To make sure that you have selected the correct life jackets for yourself:
Check for a snug fit. Adjust straps and buckles to ensure a proper fit that does not restrict breathing. If you lift a partner’s life jacket by the shoulders, the life jacket should not ride up to cover the wearer’s ears. Readjust the straps and buckles, and if it still does not pass the lift test, try a different size.

Check the buoyancy in safe water by relaxing your body and letting your head tilt back. The life jacket should keep your chin and mouth out of the water, and allow you to breathe easily.

Most boating deaths occur as a result of drowning when a boat capsizes or a person falls over board. Drowning could be prevented by wearing a life jacket.

Modern life jackets are COOL – colorful, comfortable and easy to wear.

Alcohol and boating!

Nearly one-third of boating deaths involve drinking alcohol!

Drinking alcohol can:

• cause you to lose your balance
• reduce your coordination
• impair your vision
• dramatically reduce your judgment

Drinking alcohol increases:

• effects of the sun, wind, waves, vibration and noise when boating and recreating outdoors.

Navigating the Law

Check out some rules for powerboats including personal watercraft.

Age of Operator

A person must be 16 years old or older to operate any vessel powered by a motor of 15 horsepower or greater.

A person 12 to 15 years old may operate such a vessel if they are supervised on board by someone at least 18 years old.


Any person convicted of one moving violation while operating a vessel must complete and pass a boating safety course.


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