Age Requirement (O.C.G.A. § 52-7-8.3)

Legal Commentary. Under Georgia law, any operator under the age of 16 years old is allowed to on motorized Class A vessel on any of the waters of this state, and other other vessel if they are supervised by someone 18 or older, who is authorized to operate the vehicle. All operators 16 and older of boats and personal watercrafts on Georgia waters are required, similar to Georgia motorcycle laws, to have with them while operating the boat a valid form of identification.

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O.C.G.A. § 52-7-8.3 Age Requirement

(a) A person age 16 or over may operate any vessel or personal watercraft on any of the waters of this state, and such person shall have in such vessel proper identification.

(b) A person age 14 or 15 may operate:

(1) A personal watercraft or nonmotorized Class A vessel on any of the waters of this state in compliance with the provisions of this article; and

(2) Any other vessel if such person:

(A) Is accompanied by an adult age 18 or over who is authorized to operate such vessel under the provisions of subsection (a) of this Code section;

(B) Has completed a safe boating course approved by the department; or

(C) Is under direct supervision by an adult age 18 or over.

(c) A person age 12 or 13 may operate any Class A vessel utilizing mechanical means of propulsion not exceeding 30 horsepower, under the conditions set forth in subparagraphs (b)(2)(A) through (b)(2)(C) of this Code section. Such person may operate a personal watercraft in compliance with Code Section 52-7-8.2, and such person may operate nonmotorized Class A vessels without restriction.

(d) No person under the age of 12 shall operate any Class 1, 2, or 3 vessel or any personal watercraft on any of the waters of this state, and no such person shall operate any Class A vessel utilizing mechanical means of propulsion exceeding 30 horsepower. Such person may operate a Class A vessel, other than a personal watercraft, utilizing mechanical means of propulsion not exceeding 30 horsepower only where such person is accompanied by an adult age 18 or over who is authorized to operate such vessel under the provisions of subsection (a) of this Code section.

(e) As used in this Code section, the term:

(1) "Accompanied by" means in the physical presence within the vessel of a person who is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs to a degree which would constitute a violation of Code Section 52-7-12 were such person operating the vessel.

(2) "Proper identification" shall have the same meaning as in subsection (d) of Code Section 3-3-23, relating to furnishing of alcoholic beverages.

(3) "Under the direct supervision" means within sight of and within 400 yards of a person who is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs to a degree which would constitute a violation of Code Section 52-7-12 were such person operating the vessel and who is aware of his or her supervisory responsibility.

(f) No person having ownership or control of a vessel shall permit another person to operate such vessel in violation of this Code section.

HISTORY: Code 1981, § 52-7-8.3, enacted by Ga. L. 1998, p. 679, § 2; Ga. L. 2000, p. 1563, § 1; Ga. L. 2003, p. 140, § 52.