The 2018 boating season has begun in Shasta County. As the temperatures rise, the boating safety attorneys at Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel have suggestions for staying safe on the lakes.
Know the New Laws on Licensing
As of January 1, 2018, all boaters aged 20 and younger who operate a motorized vessel must have a
California Boater Card. By 2025, all vessel operators must have this card. The law, passed in 2014, is
being phased in over seven years. Each year, a new age group is added to the list of boaters who must
carry a California Boater Card.
A California Boater Card certifies that the holder has successfully passed a National Association of State
Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and state-approved boater safety education exam. The exam is
the final step in an online or in-person boating safety course that all motorized vessel operators must
take before applying for the Boater Card.
The card costs $10 and does not expire. Replacement cards are $5. Vessel operators must carry with
them the card or proof that they meet an exception. Violations result in fines from $100 to $500.
The phased-in requirements by age are listed below.
● January 1, 2018 – Persons 20 years of age or younger
● January 1, 2019 – Persons 25 years of age or younger
● January 1, 2020 – Persons 35 years of age or younger
● January 1, 2021 – Persons 40 years of age or younger
● January 1, 2022 – Persons 45 years of age or younger
● January 1, 2023 – Persons 50 years of age or younger
● January 1, 2024 – Persons 60 years of age or younger
● January 1, 2025 – All persons regardless of age
Exceptions to the California Boater Card requirement can be found at http://californiaboatercard.com/.
One exception that has caught the eye of boating accident attorneys is operators of rented vessels.
These boaters are exempted in part because boat rental agents usually provide basic safety training
before a renter can take out a boat. Also, in 2014, when the legislature passed the bill, only 9% of
boating accidents involved rented boats. A primary goal of the law was to increase boating safety and
reduce boating accidents.
Check the Weather Before You Go Out
Weather and hazardous waters contribute to hundreds of boating accidents each year. Always check the
weather before leaving shore. Make sure you are prepared for expected weather conditions as well as
sudden weather changes.
Even when weather conditions aren’t dangerous, they can make a boating excursion uncomfortable if
boaters aren’t properly prepared.
Stock the Right Safety Equipment
California law requires most watercraft to carry specific safety equipment. The required equipment
varies according to the type of watercraft. For example, while all boats must have life jackets on board,
only the largest motorboats must carry more than one fire extinguisher.
Boat accident attorneys remind boaters that the legal requirements for safety equipment are only the
minimums. Many safety experts recommend that boats carry additional items for emergencies.
Sunburns are painful. Sunburns aren’t the only risk of skipping sunscreen, though. People who
repeatedly expose their skin to the sun without sunscreen are at higher risk of skin cancer. Children are
especially susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun’s rays.
Neither cloudy days nor sitting inside the boat next to windows will protect you from harmful UV rays.
The Skin Cancer Foundation says that as much as 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds.
Glass windows filter out UVB rays but do not protect against UVA rays. Therefore, applying sunscreen
every time you go out is the best plan for preventing skin damage from the sun.
According to Coast Guard boating accident statistics, alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in
boating accident deaths. For fatal accidents with a known primary cause, alcohol use caused 15% of the
fatal boating accidents.
Operating a boat, water skis, or aquaplane while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal. The
blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is .08%. However, vessel operators with a lower BAC can be
found to be boating under the influence (BUI). Such a finding is supported by behavior indicating
Violators of BUI laws can face fines up to $1,000 and up to six months or longer in jail. Felony criminal
charges can apply in boating accidents with injuries or death.
Wear a Lifejacket
All children under the age of 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while a vessel is
underway. A few exceptions apply. Boating accident attorneys know that once a person is overboard,
it’s too late to put on a life jacket. Therefore, boating accident attorneys and safety experts recommend
that all persons onboard wear life jackets.
Springtime is a beautiful time to enjoy Northern California’s lakes. Redding’s boating safety attorneys at
Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel remind boaters to obey the laws and use common sense when
on the water.
If a boating accident has injured you or a loved one, call the boating accident attorneys at Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel, LLP today.