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Know the Law – Personal Watercraft Laws

Summer days in Michigan result in crowds of people filling our lakes. With many people out on the water, it is important to know how to stay safe on the water. Personal watercraft laws differ from Michigan boating laws. which we recently covered in a previous segment. A personal watercraft is more commonly known as a jet ski. Tom Sinas, Grand Rapids personal injury attorney, recently appeared on our segment to explain personal watercraft laws to keep waters safer for the rest of the summer.

Personal watercraft laws and safety
As fun as personal watercrafts can be, they are dangerous. Personal watercraft laws have restrictions on who can operate them. For this year, the date to remember is December 31, 1978. Those who were born after this date cannot legally operate a personal watercraft unless she/he first obtains a boating safety certificate. In addition to this restriction, those operating between the ages of 14 and 16 years old cannot operate without riding with a parent. Kids between the ages of 14 – 16 can operate their own personal watercraft only if they are operating at a distance less than 100 feet from their parent operating their jet ski. Children 16 or older need to have obtained the boating safety certificate. For those who were born after December 31, 1978, and have completed their boating safety course, their certificate must be in their possession while operating a personal watercraft.

According to personal watercraft laws, no person shall operate a personal watercraft in Michigan, unless each person riding the vessel is wearing a certified life jacket.

Personal Watercraft Liability
If a person is carelessly operating a personal watercraft in disregard of the rights or safety of others on the water, then that person is guilty of reckless operation. First time offenders face a 2 year probationary period. The operator is restricted from operating personal watercrafts during this time. For second or third-time offenders, the probationary periods go up, and the operator may face fines or a misdemeanor resulting in imprisonment.

Owners of the personal watercraft will be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by negligent operation.

For more information on personal watercraft laws, contact Sinas Dramis online or at (616) 301-3333.

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