Frequently Asked Questions About Boating Laws

Frequently Asked Questions About Boating Laws

UNDATED – Does the “Open Container” law apply when I’m in my boat?

No. This law, effective Sept. 1, 2001, prohibits the possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. It does not apply to watercraft.

Can my driver’s license be suspended if I’m arrested for operating a boat while intoxicated?

Yes. Effective Sept.1, 2001, a person’s drivers license will be automatically suspended if the arrested person:

  • Is operating a watercraft powered with an engine having a manufacturer’s rating of 50 horsepower or more; and
  • The person refuses to provide a specimen (breath or blood) to determine intoxication.

The period of suspension for first time offenders is 180 days.

Who reports boating accidents to your department?

It is the responsibility of the boat operator who is involved in the accident. Each operator must file a boating accident report if the accident:

  • Results in death; or
  • Injuries to a person requiring medical treatment beyond first aid; or
  • Causes damage to vessel(s) or property in excess of $500.

Report forms can be downloaded from the TPWD Web site under the BOATING link.

How do I find out if there are any special water safety regulations on a lake I want to visit?

The rules in the Texas Water Safety Act apply to all public water in Texas. The local governing body of incorporated cities or towns, county commissioner’s courts, and political subdivisions can pass rules relating to restricted areas and the operation and equipment of boats it deems necessary for the public safety. You must contact the entity in charge to determine if any special rules apply.

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