Towing Persons on Water Skis, Aquaplane, or Surfboard (O.C.G.A. § 52-7-16)

Legal Commentary. Water skiers cannot be towed on any vessel between sunset and sunrise. Visibility is low during these hours and failure to abide by these rules can result in serious personal injury ranging from broken bones to more serious injuries that result in quadriplegia or paraplegia. In compliance with Operating a Vehicle While Under the Influence (O.C.G.A. § 52-7-12), it is also illegal for anyone intoxicated or under the influence of drugs to either tow someone on water skies and similar equipment. The skier must also not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When towing someone on water skies, aquaplane or surfboard, the boat operator must not be within 100 feet of stationary obstacles, like other vessels, docks, bridges, or residence. Furthermore, the boat operator cannot tow the skier near any public area that could create personal injury, so operators must stay further than 100 feet away from swimming areas, people in the water, and other public use areas. Lastly, when towing a skier or surf boarder, all boats must have a boat operator and a wide-angle rearview mirror or someone who can watch the towed person at all times.

See the full text of the statute below:

Towing Persons on Water Skis, Aquaplane, or Surfboard (O.C.G.A. § 52-7-16)   

(a) No person shall operate a vessel on any of the waters of this state for towing a person or persons on water skis, aquaplane, surfboard, or any similar device unless the vessel is equipped with a wide-angle mirror mounted in such a manner as to permit the operator of the vessel to observe at all times the person or persons being towed or unless there is in such vessel a competent person, in addition to the operator, in a position to observe at all times the person or persons being towed.<>

(b) No person shall operate any vessel on any of the waters of this state for towing a person or persons on water skis, aquaplane, surfboard, or similar devices nor shall any person or persons engage in water skiing, aquaplaning, surfboarding, or similar activities unless such person or persons being towed are wearing a ski belt, ski jacket, or a Type I, II, or III United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation device.

(c) No person shall operate a vessel on any waters of this state towing a person or persons on water skis, aquaplane, surfboard, or similar devices nor shall any person engage in water skiing, aquaplaning, surfboarding, or similar activity at any time between the hours from sunset to sunrise.

(d) Subsections (a), (b), and (c) of this Code section do not apply to a performer engaged in a professional exhibition or a person or persons engaged in an activity authorized under Code Section 52-7-19.

HISTORY: Ga. L. 1968, p. 487, § 10; Ga. L. 1973, p. 1427, § 14; Ga. L. 1978, p. 1743, § 5; Ga. L. 1982, p. 3, § 52; Ga. L. 1995, p. 10, § 52.