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New Law Soon Requires All NY Boaters To Take State-Approved Safety Course

Local News

All boaters in New York will soon have to complete a state-approved safety course to operate a motorized watercraft, regardless of their age.

A law signed by Governor Cuomo yesterday (August 7) will phase in the new requirements, expanding an earlier law that already requires those born after May 1, 1996 to complete a safety course before they can operate a motor boat.

Under the new phase-in, the safety course will be required of all other motor boat operators as follows:

  • Born on or after Jan. 1, 1993–Course required beginning 2020.
  • Born on or after Jan. 1, 1988–Course required beginning 2022.
  • Born on or after Jan. 1, 1983–Course required beginning 2023.
  • Born on or after Jan. 1, 1978–Course required beginning 2024.

The requirement would extend to all motor boat operators beginning in 2025, regardless of age.

Failure to comply could result in a fine of between $100 and $250 under the new law that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Cuomo also directed State Parks to launch a boating safety promotional campaign to remind boaters of the new requirement to take a safety course.

The legislation, entitled “Brianna’s Law,” is named after Brianna Lieneck, an 11-year-old Long Island girl who was killed in a 2005 boating accident.

“Boating has become much more popular and our rules and our laws really have not kept pace with it,” Governor Cuomo said. “There should be a basic level of knowledge that you have before you’re given the permission to go out there and operate a boat, and making a safety course mandatory is common sense. It protects the operator of the boat and everyone that operator could come into contact with, and it will make our waters safer. It took a horrific accident to make this situation real for people, but through this law Brianna is saving lives and her love lives on.”

According to the 2018 state Recreational Boating Report, nearly 439,000 powerboats are registered in the state. The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation estimates there are nearly one million boaters who will have to take the safety courses before the end of the phase-in on Jan. 1, 2025.

The law allows for the continued acceptance of State Parks approved internet-based learning and certification to meet this new demand. Classroom courses will also continue to be available.

Information about both internet and in-classroom courses can be found on the State Parks’ website.

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