Know the Law – Michigan boating laws

Michigan Boating Laws Require Registration with Secretary of State

It’s that time of year again when people begin putting their boats in the water in preparation of the holiday weekend. But before you start enjoying the nice weather and spending time with your family and friends on one of Michigan’s near-endless waterways, there are some important Michigan boating laws and safety tips you should know.

For those who own a motorized boat, it must be registered with the Secretary of State. Once registered, your boat will be given an identification number. Owners need to display that number on their boat where it is visible on both sides and above the water. Boats under 16 feet, propelled by hand either with oars or paddles, and not used for rental purposes, do not need to be registered with the Secretary of State.

Life Jackets for All
As the owner of the boat, it’s your responsibility to make sure that there is one life jacket per person on the boat at all times. Also, anyone tubing or being pulled recreationally behind the boat must be wearing a life jacket. Life jacket laws aren’t just a state requirement, but have an incredible success rate at saving lives.

Operators under Michigan Boating Laws
There are also laws that say who is allowed to operate a boat. If you were born after July 1, 1996, you are allowed to drive a boat, as long as you have your boating safety certificate on-board with you. If you were born before this date, you can operate a boat without a boating license.

For the most part, the same rules that govern Michigan roadways with regard to alcohol apply to the operation of boats in the state. If someone’s blood alcohol content is above .08, you are breaking Michigan’s boating laws and can be found guilty of operating under the influence. Every time a person is charged with operating a boat under the influence, the penalty becomes more severe. If you injure or kill a person as a result for operating a boat under the influence, you could be found guilty of a felony.

Furthermore, not only are Michigan boating laws in place to keep you safe, but specific boat insurance policies help cover potential damages and are designed to protect you in the event a tragedy occurs. Overall, have fun, pack the life jackets, purchase an insurance policy, don’t operate your boat under the influence, and enjoy this beautiful Michigan summer.

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