Definitions; Limitations on Operation (O.C.G.A. § 52-7-8.2)

(a) 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) "Class A vessel" means a boat less than 16 feet in length.

(3) "Personal watercraft" means a Class A vessel which:

(A) Has an outboard motor or which has an inboard motor which uses an internal combustion engine powering a water jet pump as its primary source of motive propulsion;

(B) Is designed with the concept that the operator and passenger ride on the outside surfaces of the vessel as opposed to riding inside the vessel; and

(C) Has the probability that the operator and passenger may, in the normal course of use, fall overboard.

Such term includes, without limitation, any vessel where the operator and passenger ride on the outside surfaces of the vessel, even if the primary source of motive propulsion is a propeller, and any vessels commonly known as a "jet ski."

(4) "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.

(b) No person shall operate or give permission to operate personal watercraft on the waters of this state unless each person aboard such personal watercraft is wearing a United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation device, Type I, Type II, Type III, or Type V. Each such personal flotation device must be properly fastened, in good and serviceable condition, and the proper size for the person wearing it.

(c) No person shall rent, lease, or let for hire a personal watercraft to any person under the age of 16 years.

(d) No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this state after sunset or before sunrise unless such person is engaged in the enforcement of the laws of this state or this nation.

(e) No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this state unless such personal watercraft is equipped with a self-circling device or a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch.

(f) No person shall operate on the waters of this state a personal watercraft which has been equipped by the manufacturer with a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch unless the lanyard and the switch are operational and unless the lanyard is attached to the operator, the operator's clothing, or a personal flotation device worn by the operator.

(g) No person shall operate on the waters of this state a personal watercraft which has been equipped by the manufacturer with a self-circling device if the self-circling device or the engine throttle has been altered in any way that would prohibit the self-circling device from operating in its intended manner.

(h) It shall be unlawful for any person who owns a personal watercraft or who has charge over or control of a personal watercraft to authorize or knowingly to permit such personal watercraft to be operated in violation of this Code section or of Code Section 52-7-8.3.

(i) The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to vessels engaged in any activity authorized under Code Section 52-7-19.

(j) No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this state at a speed greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any moored or anchored vessel, any vessel adrift, or any wharf, dock, pier, piling, bridge structure or abutment, person in the water, or shoreline adjacent to a full-time or part-time residence, public park, public beach, public swimming area, marina, restaurant, or other public use area.

(k) It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this state while towing a person or persons on water skis, aquaplanes, surfboards, tubes, or any similar device; provided, however, that the provisions of this subsection shall not apply to any personal watercraft designed by the manufacturer to carry three or more persons, provided that such personal watercraft has on board a competent observer in addition to the operator at any time that a person is being towed.

(l) On and after June 1, 1995, no person under the age of 16 years shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this state; provided, however, that a person age 12 through 15 years may operate a personal watercraft if he or she is accompanied by an adult age 18 or over or he or she has successfully completed a personal watercraft safety program approved by the department or is under direct supervision by an adult age 18 or over. The department may, but shall not be required to, conduct or provide personal watercraft safety courses to the public.

(m) On and after July 1, 1995, it shall be unlawful for any person to cause or knowingly permit such person's child or ward who is less than 12 years of age or the child or ward of another over whom such person has a permanent or temporary responsibility of supervision if such child or ward is less than 12 years of age to operate a personal watercraft.

(n) It shall be unlawful for any person to cause or knowingly permit such person's child or ward who is age 12 through 15 years or the child or ward of another over whom such person has a permanent or temporary responsibility of supervision if such child or ward is age 12 through 15 years to operate a personal watercraft other than in compliance with the provisions of subsection (l) of this Code section.

HISTORY: Code 1981, § 52-7-8.2, enacted by Ga. L. 1992, p. 2075, § 2; Ga. L. 1994, p. 680, §§ 3, 4; Ga. L. 1995, p. 10, § 52; Ga. L. 1998, p. 679, § 1.