VERMONT BOATING SAFETY
OPERATING LAWS AND REGULATIONS
Dean, M.D., Governor
A. James Walton, Jr., Commissioner
Can I Operate My
Motorboat on Any Body of Water?
Restrictions apply on several other bodies of water around the state. Read carefully the Water Resources Board regulations for information on Lakes, Ponds and Reservoirs.
When Should I Carry a Personal
Flotation Device (P.F.D.)?
Anytime you use your boat.
If your recreational boat is less than 16 in length, or a canoe or kayak, for each person on board, there must be one U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, or III wearable P.F.D. on board.
If the recreational boat is 16 or more in length, except a canoe or kayak, for each person aboard, there must be a U.S. Coast Guard Approved Type I, II, or III P.F.D. on board. In addition, there must be at least one Type IV P.F.D. on board. (Throwable)
Persons less than 12 years of age, must wear a Type I, II, or III U.S. Coast Guard approved P.F.D. while on board a vessel, while underway and the person is on an open deck.
Federal Requirements for Carriage of PFDs.
a. Coast Guard regulations in Part 17 of Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations require personal flotation devices in the following three situations:
(1) No person may use a recreational boat less than 16 feet in length or a canoe or kayak unless at least one personal flotation device (PFD) of the following types is on board for each person: (1) Type I PFD, (2) Type II PFD, or (3) Type III PFD.
(2) No person may use a recreational boat 16 feet or more in length, except a canoe or kayak, unless at least one personal flotation device of the following types is on board for each person: (1) Type I PFD, (2) Type II PFD, or (3) Type III PFD.
(3) No person may use a recreational boat 16 feet or more in length, except a canoe or kayak, unless at least one Type IV PFD is on board in addition to the PFDs required in paragraph (2).
b. A Type V PFD may be carried in lieu of any PFD required if that Type V PFD is approved for the activity in which the recreational boat is being used. A Type V Hybrid must be worn to be accepted.
Do I Need Lights on My Boat?
If you operate your boat between sunset and sunrise, you must have lights which meet U.S. Coast Guard navigation rules.
What If I Have an Accident?
You must stop and render assistance and give your name and address to the other operator if another boat is involved. If there is personal injury or property damage in excess of $100.00 you must file a report with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles within 36 hours on a form available at your nearest State Police or Motor Vehicle installation.
IMPORTANT - CAREFULLY READ THE LAWS WHICH FOLLOW TO FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH ALL THE RULES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE OPERATION OF MOTORBOATS.
TITLE 23. VERMONT STATUTES ANNOTATED
3301. Declaration of policy.
3303. Operation of unnumbered motorboats prohibited.
3305. Fees; registration.
3305a. Privilege to operate a vessel; suspension of privilege; minimum age for operation of motorboat.
3305b. Boating safety education; rules.
3306. Lights and equipment.
3307. Exemption from numbering provisions.
3307a. Documented boat validation sticker.
3308. Boat liveries.
3309. Muffling devices.
3310. Swimming areas.
3311. Operation of vessels; prohibited acts.
3312. Operation rules as between vessels.
3312a. Operation of personal watercraft (ski-jets).
3313. Collisions, accidents, and casualties.
3314. Transmittal of information.
3315. Water skis and surfboards.
3316. Regattas, races, marine parades, tournaments or exhibitions.
3318. Administration and enforcement.
3319. Fees collected.
3320. Motor propelled boats on Dufresne Dam waters prohibited.
3321. Motor propelled boats in South Pond prohibited.
3322. Proof of payment of tax.
3323. Operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs; B.W.I.
3324. Implied consent.
3325. Permissive inference of intoxication.
3326. Refusal to submit to B.W.I. test; sanctions.
3381. Divers - Flag required.
Section 3301. Declaration of policy
It is the policy of this state to promote safety for persons and property in and connected with the use, operation and equipment of vessels and to promote uniformity of laws relating thereto.
Section 3302. Definitions
As used in this chapter, unless the context clearly requires a different meaning:
(1) "Holding tank" means a container or device designed to provide for the retention of wastes on board a vessel and to prevent the discharge of wastes into the waters of this state.
(2) "Law enforcement officer" shall mean a person designated in section 4(11) of this title, and shall include deputy state game wardens and auxiliary state police officers.
(3) "Marine toilet" means any toilet on or within any vessel except those that have been permanently sealed and made inoperative.
(4) "Motorboat" means any vessel propelled by machinery, whether or not such machinery is the principal source of propulsion, but shall not include a vessel which has a valid marine document issued by the bureau of customs of the United States government or any federal agency successor thereto.
(5) "Operate" means to navigate or otherwise use a motorboat or vessel.
(6) "Owner" means a person, other than a lien holder, having the property in or title to a motorboat. The term includes a person entitled to the use or possession of a motorboat subject to an interest in another person, reserved or created by agreement and securing payment or performance of an obligation, but the term excludes a lessee under a lease not intended as security.
(7) "Person" means an individual, partnership, firm, corporation, association, or other entity.
(8) "Personal watercraft" means a Class A vessel which uses an inboard engine powering a water jet pump as its primary source of motive power and which is designed to be operated by a person or persons sitting, standing, or kneeling on, or being towed behind the vessel rather than in the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside the vessel.
(9) "Public waters of the state" means navigable waters as defined in chapter 49 of Title 10, excepting those waters in private ponds and private preserves as set forth in sections 5204, 5205, 5206 and 5210 of Title 10.
(10) "Sailboard" means a sailboat whose unsupported mast is attached to a surfboard-like hull by a flexible joint.
(11) "Vessel" means every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.
(12) "Waste" means effluent, sewage or any substance or material, liquid, gaseous, solid or radioactive, including heated liquids, whether or not harmful or deleterious to waters of this state.
(13) "Waters of this state" means any waters within the territorial limits of this state.
Section 3303. Operation of unnumbered motorboats prohibited
Every motorboat on the waters of this state shall be numbered. No person shall operate or give permission for the operation of any motorboat on such waters unless the motorboat is numbered in accordance with this subchapter, or in accordance with applicable federal law, or in accordance with a federally approved numbering system of another state, and unless (1) the certificate of number awarded to such motorboat is currently valid, and (2) the identifying number set forth in the certificate of number is displayed on each side of the bow of such motorboat. Motorboats described in subdivision (5) of section 3307 of this title, however, are excepted from the provisions of this section.
Section 3304. Classification
Motorboats subject to the provisions of this chapter shall be divided into four classes as follows:
Class A. Less than sixteen feet in length.
Class 1. Sixteen feet or over and less than twenty-six feet in length.
Class 2. Twenty-six feet or over and less than forty feet in length.
Class 3. Forty feet or over.
Section 3305. Fees
(a) A person shall not operate a motorboat on the public waters of this state unless the motorboat is registered in accordance with this chapter.
(b) Annually the owner of each motorboat required to be registered by this state shall file an application for a number with the commissioner of motor vehicles on forms approved by him or her. The application shall be signed by the owner of the motorboat and shall be accompanied by a fee of $15.00 for a motorboat in class A; by a fee of $25.00 for a motorboat in class 1; by a fee of $50.00 for a motorboat in class 2; by a fee of $110.00 for a motorboat in class 3. Upon receipt of the application in approved form, the commissioner shall enter the application upon the records of the department of motor vehicles and issue to the applicant a registration certificate stating the number awarded to the motorboat and the name and address of the owner. The owner shall paint on or attach to each side of the bow of the motorboat the identification number in such manner as may be prescribed by rules of the commissioner in order that it may be clearly visible. A vessel of less than 10 horsepower used as a tender to a registered vessel shall be deemed registered, at no additional cost, and shall have painted or attached to both sides of the bow, the same registration number as the registered vessel with the number "1" after the number. The number shall be maintained in legible condition. The registration certificate shall be pocket size and shall be available at all times for inspection on the motorboat for which issued, whenever the motorboat is in operation. A duplicate registration may be obtained upon payment of a fee of $2.00 to the commissioner.
(c) A person engaged in the manufacture or sale of motorboats of a type otherwise required to be registered by this subchapter, upon application to the commissioner upon forms prescribed by him or her, may obtain registration certificates for use as described under subdivision (1) of this subsection.
(1) A dealer motorboat registration number may be used:
(A) for the purpose of testing or adjusting motorboats in the immediate vicinity of his or her place of business;
(B) for some purpose directly connected with the business of purchasing, selling or exchanging motorboats by the dealer;
(C) for demonstration when the prospective purchaser is operating the motorboat and is not accompanied by the dealer or his or her employee, but not for more than three days;
(D) for the temporary accommodation of a customer, whose motorboat, because of accident or wear, is disabled and is left with the dealer for repairs for not more than 14 days;
(E) for the private business or pleasure use of the dealer and members of his or her immediate family residing in the same household;
(F) for the use of those motorboats at regattas, marine parades or water festivities where no charge is made for that use.
(2) The word "dealer" for the purpose of subdivision (1)(E) of this subsection shall include the principal officers of a corporation or dealer and those partners in a copartnership registered as a dealer as are actively and principally engaged in the motorboat business, but shall not include directors and stockholders nor inactive and silent partners.
(3) An application for a dealer motorboat registration number shall be accompanied by the following fees:
(A) for the first number applied for, $25.00;
(B) for each additional number applied for in the current registration period, $5.00.
(4) The commissioner shall issue a registration certificate of number for each identifying number awarded to the dealer in the manner described in subsection (a) of this section, except that a boat shall not be described in the certificate. A dealers registration certificate expires one year from the first day of the month of issuance.
(5) A dealers identifying number shall be displayed as required by subsection (a) except that the number may be temporarily attached.
(6) A dealer or representative of a dealer shall not use a dealers identifying number for any purpose other than those described in subdivision (1).
(d) Registration of a motorboat ends when the owner transfers title to another. The former owner shall immediately return directly to the commissioner the registration certificate previously assigned to the transferred motorboat with the date of sale and the name and residence of the new owner endorsed on the back of the certificate.
When a person transfers the ownership of a registered motorboat to another, files a new application and pays a fee of $5.00, he or she may have registered in his or her name another motorboat of the same class for the remainder of the registration year without payment of any additional registration fee. However, if the fee for the registration of the motorboat sought to be registered is greater than the registration fee for the transferred motorboat, the applicant shall pay the difference between the fee first paid and the fee for the class motorboat sought to be registered.
(e) If an agency of the United States government has in force an overall system of identification numbering for motorboats within the United States, the numbering system employed under this subchapter by the commissioner shall conform with that system.
(f) Every registration certificate awarded under this subchapter shall continue in effect for one year from the first day of the month of issue unless sooner ended under this chapter. The registration certificate may be renewed by the owner in the same manner provided for in securing the initial certificate.
(g) The owner shall notify the commissioner of the transfer of any part of his or her interest other than the creation of a security interest in a motorboat numbered in this state under subsections (a) and (b) of this section or of the destruction or abandonment of the motorboat, within 15 days of the transfer, destruction or abandonment. The transfer, destruction, or abandonment shall end the certificate of number for the motorboat except that in the case of a transfer of a part interest which does not affect the owners right to operate the motorboat, the transfer shall not end the certificate of number.
(h) Any holder of a registration certificate shall notify the commissioner within 15 days, if his or her address ceases to be the address appearing on the certificate and shall, as a part of the notification, furnish the commissioner with his or her new address. The commissioner may provide by rule for the surrender of the certificate bearing the former address and its replacement with a certificate bearing the new address or for the alteration of an outstanding certificate to show the new address of the holder.
(i) No number other than the number awarded to a motorboat or granted reciprocity under this subchapter may be painted, attached, or otherwise displayed on either side of the bow of the motorboat.
(j) The commissioner, by rules adopted pursuant to 3 V.S.A. chapter 25, may provide for the issuance of temporary registrations of motorboats pending issuance of the permanent registration. Motorboat dealers may issue temporary motorboat registrations. The dealers fee for the temporary registrations shall be $1.00 for each registration purchased from the department of motor vehicles. Temporary registrations shall be kept with the motorboat while being operated and shall authorize operation without the registration number being affixed for a period not to exceed 30 days from the date of issue.
Section 3305a. Privilege to operate a vessel; suspension of privilege; minimum age for operation of motorboat.
(a) A person who meets the applicable requirements of this subchapter shall have the privilege to operate a vessel on the public waters of this state, as those waters are defined in 10 V.S.A. Sec. 1422.
(b) A person whose privilege to operate a vessel has been suspended shall not operate, attempt to operate or be in actual physical control of a vessel on the public waters of this state until the privilege to operate a vessel has been reinstated by the commissioner of motor vehicles.
(c) A person under the age of 12 shall not operate a motorboat powered by more than six horsepower on the public waters of this state.
Section 3305b. Boating safety education; rules
(a) When required. (Effective July 1, 1991) A person born after January 1, 1974 shall not operate a motorboat on the public waters of this state without first obtaining a certificate of boating education.
(b) Possession of certificate. (Effective July 1, 1991) A person who is required to have a certificate of boating education shall;
(1) possess the certificate when operating a motorboat on the public waters of the state; and
(2) show the certificate on the demand of an enforcement officer wearing insignia identifying him or her as such or operating a law enforcement motorboat or vessel. However, no person charged with violating this subsection shall be convicted if the person produces in court, to the officer, or to a states attorney a certificate which was valid at the time the violation occurred.
(c) Exemptions. The following persons are exempt from the requirements of this section;
(1) a person who is licensed by the United States Coast Guard to operate a vessel for commercial purposes;
(2) a person operating a vessel on a body of water located on private property; and
(3) any other person exempted by rules of the department of public safety.
(d) Rules. The department of public safety shall:
(1) adopt rules that establish criteria for a course of instruction in boating safety education;
(2) adopt rules relating to transient boaters and persons who hire chartered vessels;
(3) administer a verbal test when appropriate;
(4) coordinate a statewide program of boating safety instruction and certification and ensure that a course of boating safety education is available within each county; and
(5) ensure that a course of boating safety education is available at the earliest practicable age for children.
(e) Hours of instruction. Any course of boating safety education that is offered shall provide a minimum of eight hours of instruction.
(f) Persons offering courses. The following persons may offer the course of instruction in boating safety education if approved by the department of public safety:
(1) the department of public safety;
(2) the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary;
(3) the United States Power Squadron;
(4) a political subdivision;
(5) a municipal corporation;
(6) a state agency;
(7) a public or non-public school;
(8) any group, firm, association, or person.
(g) Issuance of certificate. The department of public safety or its designee, shall issue a certificate of boating safety education to a person who:
(1) passes the departmentally prescribed course in boating safety education; or
(2) passes a boating safety equivalency examination administered by persons authorized to offer the course on boating safety education.
(h) Education materials. Upon request, the department of public safety shall provide, without charge, boating safety education materials to persons who plan to take the boating safety equivalency examination.
(i) Lifetime issuance. Once issued, the certificate of boating safety education is valid for the lifetime of the person to whom it was issued and may not be revoked by the department of public safety or a court of law.
(j) Certificate replacement. The department of public safety shall replace, without charge, a lost or destroyed certificate if the department issued the certificate or has a record that the certificate was issued.
(k) Out-of-state certificate. A boating safety certificate issued in another state or country in accordance with or substantially equivalent to criteria of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is sufficient to comply with the requirements of this section.
Section 3306. Lights and equipment
(a) Every vessel shall carry and show the following lights when underway between sunset and sunrise:
(1) Manually propelled boats, a lantern capable of showing a white light which shall be temporarily displayed in sufficient time to prevent collision.
(2) Motorboats less than twenty-six feet in length, a white light aft showing all around, visible for at least two miles, a light in the forepart of the boat, lower than the white light aft, showing green to starboard and red to port, visible for at least one mile.
(3) Motorboats twenty-six feet or longer, a white light aft showing all around, visible for at least two miles, a white light in the forepart of the boat showing all around, a light in the forepart of the boat showing red to port and green to starboard, visible at least one mile.
(4) Boats propelled by sail, a white light showing all around visible for at least two miles, and a white light in the forepart of the boat, lower than the white light aft, showing red to port and green to starboard.
(5) Any light or combination of lights approved by the Coast Guard for inland waters shall be considered legal for Vermont waters.
(b)(1) Each vessel, except sailboards, shall carry at least one United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation device consistent with federal regulations in good and serviceable condition for each person aboard.
Personal flotation devices must meet the following requirements to be acceptable:
(1) They shall be Coast Guard approved.
(2) Types I, II, III or V must be readily accessible, that is, easy to reach in case of an emergency. Examples of PFDs not readily accessible are those located in a locked locker and those stored under an anchor, or enclosed in shipping covers. A Type V Hybrid must be worn to be accepted and other Type Vs may have other restrictions on their labels.
NOTE: Readily accessible is defined as easily retrievable within a reasonable amount of time.
(3) Type IV PFD must be immediately available, which means able to produce in less than five seconds.
(4) PFDs shall be in good and serviceable condition, which means being able to perform its intended function.
(5) PFDs shall be of appropriate size for the intended wearer (within the weight range/chest size marked on the device).
The absence of any one of these five requirements would cause the person using the recreational boat to be in violation of the law.
(b)(2) Vessels; persons less than 12 years old. In addition to the provisions of this subsection, a person under the age of 12 aboard a vessel, while under way and the person is on an open deck, shall wear a Type I, II or III United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation device.
(b)(3) Sailboards; persons less than 16 years old. A person under the age of 16 aboard a sailboard shall wear a Type I, II or III United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation device.
(b)(4) United States Coast Guard inspected commercial vessels shall be exempt from the provisions of this subsection.
(c) Every motorboat and auxiliary powered sailboat except outboard motorboats less than twenty-six feet in length and of open construction* not carrying passengers for hire shall carry on board, fully charged and in good condition, United States Coast Guard approved hand portable fire extinguishers as follows:
(1) Motorboats and auxiliary powered sailboats with no fixed fire extinguisher system in the machinery space and which are:
(A) Less than twenty-six feet in length, one extinguisher;
(B) Twenty-six feet or longer, but less than forty feet, two extinguishers;
(C) Forty feet or longer, three extinguishers.
(2) Motorboats and auxiliary powered sailboats with a fixed fire extinguisher system in the machinery space and which are:
(A) Twenty-six feet or longer but less than forty feet, one extinguisher;
(B) Forty feet or longer, two extinguishers.
(d) The extinguishers referred to by this section are class B-I extinguishers described in Code 46 C.F.R. 25.30, but one class B-II extinguisher described in the regulation may be substituted for two class B-I extinguishers.
*The term "open boats" means those motorboats or motor vessels with all engine and fuel tank compartments, and other spaces to which explosive or flammable gases and vapors from these compartments may flow, open to the atmosphere and so arranged as to prevent the entrapment of such gases and vapors within the vessel.
The current Coast Guard criteria for determination of an "open compartment" is that three conditions must be met in order to consider an engine or fuel compartment open to the atmosphere and therefore exempt from Federal ventilation requirements. These three conditions are:
(1) Engine and fuel tank compartments shall have as a minimum 15 square inches of open area directly exposed to the atmosphere for each cubic foot of net compartment volume.
(2) There must be no long or narrow unventilated spaces accessible from such compartments in which a flame front could propagate.
(3) Long narrow compartments (such as side panels) if joining engine or fuel compartments and not serving as ducts thereto, shall have at least 15 square inches of open area per cubic foot provided by frequent openings along the full length of the compartment formed.
(e) Every marine toilet on board any vessel operated on the waters of the state shall also incorporate or be equipped with a holding tank. Any holding tank designed so as to provide for an optional means of discharge to the waters on which the vessel is operating shall have the discharge openings sealed shut and any discharge lines, pipes, or hoses shall be disconnected and stored while the vessel is in the waters of this state.
(f) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the discharge of adequately treated wastes from any vessel operating under the provisions of a valid discharge permit issued by the department of environmental conservation.
Section 3307. Exemption from numbering provisions
A motorboat is not required to be numbered under this chapter if it is:
(1) Already covered by a number in effect which has been awarded to it under federal law or a federally-approved numbering system of another state, if the boat has not been within the state for more than ninety days.
(2) A motorboat from a country other than the United States if the boat has not been within the state for more than ninety days.
(3) A motorboat owned by the United States, a state or subdivision of the United States or a state and not rented, leased or used by any person other than an employee of the government. However, the boat shall have the name of the government or department of the government owning it printed on each side of the bow.
(4) A ships lifeboat.
(5) Any exemptions provided in this section shall, however; be operative as to an owner or operator of a motorboat only to the extent that under the laws of the foreign country or state of his or her residence like exemptions and privileges are granted to operators and owners of motorboats duly registered under the laws of this state.
(6) Licensed, numbered or otherwise registered under New Hampshire laws for operation on waters in that state, but only when it is operated on such parts of the Connecticut River and impoundments of the river as may lie in Vermont and only when and to the same extent as New Hampshire laws allow motorboats licensed, numbered or otherwise recognized by Vermont laws as being registered for lawful operation on waters within Vermont to be operated on such parts of the Connecticut River and impoundments of the river as may be in New Hampshire.
Failure to meet one of the previous exemptions will require registration and numbering in Vermont.
Section 3307a. Documented Boat Validation Sticker
(a) Annual validation required.
(1) An owner of a vessel, as defined in 23 V.S.A. 3302(11) that has been registered in another state under a federally-approved numbering system, or that has a valid document issued by the United States Coast Guard, the United States Bureau of Customs or any other federal agency, and that is used in the waters of the state for at least 30 days in any calendar year shall apply annually to the commissioner of motor vehicles for validation of the out-of-state or federal registration of that vessel.
(2) The commissioner shall issue a validation sticker to any person who submits an application and pays a fee as required by subsection (b) of this section provided that the registration is valid and that the requirements of section 3322 of this title are met.
(3) A validation sticker issued under this section shall be valid through December 31 of the year in which it is issued.
(b) Application; fee. The owner of the vessel shall:
(1) submit an application to the commissioner on the form that the commissioner requires and be signed by every owner of the vessel; and
(2) pay to the commissioner an application fee of $15.00 for a motorboat in class A; $25.00 for a motorboat in class 1; $50.00 for a motorboat in class 2; and $110.00 for a motorboat in class 3.
(c) Sale of Vessel. Within 30 days after the sale or other transfer of a vessel that is or should be validated under this section:
(1) The transferor shall give notice of the transfer to the Commissioner on the form that the Commissioner requires; and
(2) if the transferee intends to continue to use the vessel on the waters of the state for at least 30 days in any calendar year he or she shall submit an application for validation and pay the fee as required by subsection (b) of this section.
(d) Display of sticker. The validation sticker shall be displayed on or about the forward half of the vessel.
(e) Operation without sticker prohibited. Unless the vessel that is subject to the validation requirement of this section displays a current validation sticker:
(1) A person may not operate the vessel on the waters of the state; and
(2) the owner may not knowingly permit the vessel to be operated on the waters of the state.
Section 3308. Boat liveries
The owner of a boat livery shall cause to be kept a record of the name and address of the person or persons hiring any vessel which is designed or permitted by him or her to be operated as a motorboat and the identification number and the date and time of rental. The record shall be preserved for at least six months.
Section 3309. Muffling devices.
The exhaust of every internal combustion engine used on any motorboat shall be effectively muffled by equipment so constructed and used as to muffle the noise of the exhaust in a manner which reduces the maximum machine operating noise level to not more than 82 decibels on the A scale at 50 feet, in a normal operating environment. The use of cutouts is prohibited except for motorboats competing in a regatta or boat race approved as provided in section 3316 of this title, and for such motorboats while on trial runs, during a period not to exceed 48 hours immediately preceding such regatta or race and for such motorboats while competing in official trials for speed records during a period not to exceed 48 hours immediately following such regatta or race.
Section 3310. Swimming areas
(a) The state board of forests, parks and recreation/or a municipality in administering a swimming beach or waterfront program may designate a swimming area in front of the beach or land which the state or municipality owns or controls and may make rules pertaining to the area. The rules may provide that no person, except a lifeguard on duty and other authorized personnel, may operate any boat, canoe or water vehicle of any sort within the designated swimming area.
(b) A designated swimming area shall have bounds marked by buoys spaced no more than one hundred feet apart. The buoys shall be displayed 24 inches above the water or shall have red flags not smaller than 12 by 18 inches displayed 18 inches above the water.
Section 3311. Operation of vessels; prohibited acts
(a) Careless and negligent operation. A person shall not operate any vessel or manipulate any water skis, surfboard, or similar device in a careless or negligent manner or in any manner to endanger or jeopardize the safety, life or property of another person.
(b) Permitting the use by intoxicated person. The owner or person in charge or in control of a vessel shall not knowingly authorize or knowingly permit it to be propelled or operated by any person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic drugs or barbiturates.
(c) Distance requirements.
(1) A person shall not operate any vessel except a sailboard or a police or emergency vessel, within 200 feet of the shoreline, a person in the water, a canoe, rowboat or other vessel, an anchored or moored vessel containing any person, or anchorages or docks, except at a speed of less than five miles per hour which does not create a wake.
(2) Divers. A person shall not operate any vessel, except a non- motorized canoe, a non-motorized rowboat or a police or emergency vessel, within 200 feet of a divers-down flag.
(3) Nothing herein shall prohibit rendering assistance to another person, picking up a person in the water, necessary mooring or landing, or leaving shore, or operating in any other place where obstruction, other than the shoreline, would prevent abiding by this statute.
(4) A person shall not operate a vessel, except at speeds of less than five miles per hour, within 200 feet of a designated swimming area.
(d) Underwater historic preserve area. A vessel shall not be operated in an "underwater historic preserve area" except as provided in this subsection. These areas are historic and archaeological sites located on the bottomlands of the waters of the state and are designated as public recreational areas. The division for historic preservation may designate underwater historic preserve areas and they shall be identified by a floating special purpose yellow buoy marked "State of Vermont Underwater Historic Preserve". The following requirements shall govern the operation of vessels at the preserves:
(1) a vessel may secure to a yellow buoy only when diving at the preserve;
(2) only vessels 35 feet in length or less, and only those engaged in diving, may secure to a buoy;
(3) a divers-down flag shall be displayed whenever a vessel is secured to a buoy;
(4) on sites with multiple buoys, one vessel may be secured to each buoy;
(5) when a vessel is secured to the buoy, all other vessels shall remain at least 200 feet from the buoy; and
(6) anchoring is not permitted within 200 feet of the buoy.
(e) Overloaded vessel. A vessel shall not be loaded with passengers or cargo beyond its safe carrying capacity taking into consideration weather and other existing operating conditions.
(f) Attempting to elude a law enforcement officer. An operator of any vessel shall bring his or her vessel to a stop and not attempt to elude a law enforcement officer when signaled to do so by the officer wearing insignia identifying him or her as such or operating a law enforcement vessel sounding a siren and displaying a flashing blue or blue and white signal lamp. The officer may board the vessel.
(g) Residential vessels prohibited on certain waters. The use of vessels for residential purposes is prohibited on all lakes and ponds which are located wholly within Vermont and on which there are no boat sanitary waste pumpout facilities approved by the department of environmental conservation. For purposes of this subsection, "residential purposes" includes but is not limited to sleeping overnight on a vessel. Vessels operated by agencies, entities, authorities or instrumentalities of the state, including the state colleges and the University of Vermont, shall comply with this subsection, except when law enforcement, an emergency or the performance of official duties requires otherwise.
Section 3312. Operations rules as between vessels
(a) When two boats are approaching each other "head on" or in a manner so as to involve risk of collision, each boat shall bear to the right and pass the other boat on its left side.
(b) When boats approach each other obliquely or at right angles, the boat approaching on the right side has the right-of-way.
(c) One boat may overtake another on either side but shall grant the right-of-way to the overtaken boat.
(d) The United States Coast Guard Inland Navigation Rules (33 U.S.C. Secs. 2001-2038 and 2071-2073, as amended from time to time) are hereby adopted as the operative rules for Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog and Wallace Pond in Canaan.
The Navigation Rules establish actions to be taken by vessels to avoid collision. The vessel operator is responsible for knowing and following applicable navigation rules. The following diagrams describe the whistle signals and actions to be taken by recreational vessels in a crossing, meeting and overtaking situation. These are basic examples, for further information consult the NAVIGATION RULES International-Inland (COMDTINST M16672.2A).
International Rules apply outside established lines of demarcation and Inland Rules apply inside the lines. Demarcation lines are printed on most navigational charts and are published in the Navigation Rules.
Section 3312a. Operation of personal watercraft
(a) A person under the age of 16 shall not operate a personal watercraft.
(b) All persons operating or riding on a personal watercraft shall wear a Type I, II or III United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation device.
(c) Personal watercraft shall not be operated at any time during the hours between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise.
(d) Every person operating a personal watercraft equipped by the manufacturer with a lanyard type engine cut-off switch shall attach the lanyard to his or her wrist, clothing, or personal flotation device as appropriate for the specific craft.
Section 3313. Collisions, accidents and casualties
(a) The operator of a vessel involved in a collision, accident, or other casualty, so far as he or she can do so without serious danger to his or her own vessel, crew, and passengers shall render to other persons affected by the collision, accident, or the casualty such assistance as may be practicable and as may be necessary in order to save them from or minimize any danger caused by the collision, accident, or other casualty. Also he or she shall give his or her name, address, and identification of his or her vessel in writing to any person injured and to the owner of any property damaged in the collision, accident, or other casualty.
(b) If a collision, accident, or other casualty involving a vessel results in death or injury to a person or damage to property in excess of $100.00, the operator shall file with the commissioner of motor vehicles within thirty-six hours, a full description of the collision, accident, or other casualty, including such information as the commissioner may, by rule, require.
Section 3314. Transmittal of information
In accordance with any request duly made by an authorized official or agency of the United States, any information compiled or otherwise available to the department of motor vehicles under subsection(b) of section 3313 of this title shall be transmitted to the official or agency of the United States.
Section 3315. Water skis and surfboards
(a) A person shall not operate a vessel on any waters of this state for towing a person or persons on water skis, aquaplane, kite skis, surfboard or similar device unless the person being towed is wearing a United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation device and unless there is in the vessel a person who is at least 12 years old, in addition to the operator, in a position to observe the progress of the person or persons being towed. Persons engaged in barefoot water skiing may elect at their own risk to wear a non-Coast Guard approved barefoot wetsuit designed specifically for this activity.
(b) The provisions of subsection (a) of this section do not apply to a performer engaged in a professional exhibition or a person engaged in an activity authorized under section 3316 of this title.
(c) A person shall not operate or manipulate any vessel, tow rope or other device by which the direction or location of water skis, a surfboard, or similar device may be affected or controlled in such a way as to cause the water skis, surfboard, or similar device, or any person thereon to approach within one hundred feet of a person swimming, or a canoe, rowboat, or other light craft conveying any person. This subsection does not prohibit necessary mooring or landing, or leaving shore.
(d) The commissioner may designate areas less than 200 feet from the shoreline of a body of water, other than a river, to allow for the operation of a motorboat used for the purpose of towing a person or persons on water skis, aquaplane, kite skis, surfboard or similar device. The commissioner shall adopt rules to establish criteria governing the designation of such areas and conditions which may be placed on the designated areas. The commissioner may consider safety, potential environmental damage, the impact on adjacent areas and uses and any other related concerns.
Section 3316. Regattas; races; marine parades; tournaments water skiing events, or exhibitions
(a) The commissioner of the department of public safety may authorize the holding of public regattas, motorboat or other boat races, marine parades, tournaments, water skiing events, or exhibitions on any waters of this state. He or she shall adopt and may, from time to time, amend rules concerning the safety of motorboats and other vessels and persons on these vessels, either observers or participants. Whenever a public regatta, motorboat or other boat race, marine parade, tournament, water skiing events, or exhibition is proposed to be held, the person in charge, shall, at least fifteen days prior to the event, file an application with the department of public safety for permission to hold the regatta, motorboat/or other boat race, marine parade, tournament, water skiing events, or exhibition. The application shall set forth the date, time and location where it is proposed to hold the regatta, motorboat, or other boat race, marine parade, tournament, water skiing events, or exhibition and it shall not be conducted without authorization of the department of public safety in writing, except that this provision shall not apply to unscheduled boat races to which the public has not been invited.
(b) The provisions of this section shall not exempt any person from compliance with applicable federal law or regulation, but nothing contained in this section shall be construed to require the securing of a state permit if a permit has been obtained from an authorized agency of the United States.
Section 3317. Penalties
(a) A person who violates any of the following sections of this title shall be subject to a fine of not more than $50.00 for each violation:
§3303 unnumbered boat
§3305(a) unregistered boat
§3305(d) old registration certificate to be returned
§3305(e) compliance with federal motorboat ID system
§3305(h) change of address
§3305(i) incorrect number displayed on boat
§3305(j) temporary registration
§3305a(a) qualified person may operate
§3305a(c) underage operation
§3305b operating without boating certificate
§3306(a)-(d) lights and equipment
§3307a documented boat validation sticker
§3308 boat rental records
§3309 muffling device
§3311(c) distance requirements
§3311(d) underwater historic preserve area
§3311(e) overloaded vessel
§3312 rules between vessels
§3313(b) failing to file report
§3315(a) water ski observer
§3315(c) improper ski towing
§3316 boat races
(b) A person who violates a rule promulgated under section 1424 of Title 10 or any of the following sections of this title shall be subject to a fine of not more than $300.00 for each violation:
§3306(e) marine toilet
§3312a operation of personal watercraft
(c) A person who violates any of the following sections of this title shall be imprisoned not more than three months or fined not more than $300.00, or both, for each violation:
§3306a(a)(b) operating privilege suspended
§3311(a) careless and negligent operation
§3311(b) permitting use by intoxicated person
§3311(f) attempting to elude a law enforcement officer
§3311(g) residential vessel prohibited
§3313(a) leaving scene of accident
(d) Boating while intoxicated; privilege suspension. Any person who is convicted of violating section 3323 of this title shall have his or her privilege to operate a vessel, except a non-motorized canoe and a non-motorized rowboat, suspended for a period of one year and until the person complies with section 1209a of this title.
(e) Boating while intoxicated; criminal penalty. Any person who violates a provision of section 3323 of this title shall be imprisoned for not more than one year and subject to the following fines:
(1) for a first offense, not less than $200.00 nor more than $750.00;
(2) for a second or subsequent offenses, not less than $250.00 nor more than $1,000.00.
(f) Boating while intoxicated; death resulting. If the death of any person results from the violation of section 3323 of this title, the person convicted shall, instead of any other penalty imposed in this section, be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $2,000.00 or both; but the provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit or restrict prosecutions for manslaughter.
(g) Defective, stolen or fraudulently registered motorboat; registration revocation or suspension. The commissioner of motor vehicles or his or her authorized agent may suspend or revoke the registration of any motorboat registered in this state and repossess the number and certificate to it, when he or she is satisfied that:
(1) a motorboat has been stolen and that the registrant has not legal title; or
(2) a motorboat is in such poor mechanical or structural condition as to make it unseaworthy; or
(3) a motorboat is operated without proper equipment after the owner has been notified to procure and use such equipment as is required by law or department rules; or
(4) the owner of a motorboat has perpetrated some fraud upon the department of motor vehicles.
(h) More than two violations; education program required. Any person convicted of more than two boating violations concerning the operation of, or safety equipment on, a vessel within a two-year period shall, in addition to penalties provided for in this section, have his or her privilege to operate a vessel on the waters of this state suspended until the person has successfully completed the boating safety education program provided in section 3305b of this title. A person shall also be required to complete the program if convicted of careless or negligent operation or of operation under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The requirements of this subsection apply regardless of whether a person has completed the education program one or more times.
Section 3318. Administration and Enforcement
(a) The administration of the provisions of this chapter, as they pertain to the registration and numbering of vessels and the suspension of the privilege to operate vessels, shall be the responsibility of the department of motor vehicles.
(b) This chapter and rules promulgated under this chapter shall be printed in booklet form and made available to the public by the department of public safety.
(c) The provisions of this subchapter and the rules adopted pursuant to this subchapter shall be enforced by law enforcement officers as defined in section 3302 of this title in accordance with the provisions of 12 V.S.A. chapter 193, and they may also enforce rules adopted pursuant to 10 V.S.A. Section 1424.
Section 3319. Fees collected
(a) There is hereby established a special fund to be known as the motorboat registration fund for the purposes of ensuring that the fees and penalties collected under this subchapter are utilized in the protection and maintenance of the states water resources. Any interest earned on the monies in this fund will be deposited in the general fund.
(b) The fees and penalties collected under the provisions of this subchapter shall be deposited in the motorboat registration fund and shall be allocated as follows:
(1) 15 percent to the department of public safety, to be used for enforcement of this subchapter and implementation of a boating safety education program;
(2) 50 percent to the department of fish and wildlife, to be used; to match federal funds; for upgrading and expanding boating access areas and facilities located at those areas; for developing and constructing new boating access areas; and for facilitating or establishing and maintaining pump out stations, which may be, in the discretion of the commissioner, constructed or operated either by the department or on a contractual basis by a private person or entity. Users shall be charged reasonable and appropriate fees;
(3) 25 percent to the department of environmental conservation for the purpose of aquatic nuisance control pursuant to 10 V.S.A. 921, 922 and 923;
(4) 10 percent to the department of agriculture, food and markets for the purpose of mosquito control pursuant to 6 V.S.A. chapter 85.
Section 3320. Motor propelled boats on Dufresne Dam waters prohibited
(a) The use and operation of motor propelled boats on the waters impounded by the Dufresne Dam, so-called, on the Battenkill River in the town of Manchester is prohibited.
(b) The fish and wildlife department shall post notice of this section conspicuously at the boat launching areas at the above impoundment.
(c) A person who violates this section shall be fined not more than $20.00 for each offense.
Section 3321. Motor propelled boats in South Pond prohibited
(a) The use and operation of motor propelled boats on the waters of South Pond in the town of Marlboro is prohibited.
(b) The fish and wildlife department shall post notice of this section conspicuously at the boat launching areas at the above impoundment.
(c) A person who violates this section shall be fined not more than $20.00 for each offense.
Section 3322. Proof of Payment of Tax
No license, permit, registration, validation or similar authorization to own or operate any vessel shall be issued under this chapter until proof of payment of or exemption from the tax imposed by 32 V.S.A. chapter 233 has been established in the manner prescribed by the commissioner of taxes.
Section 3323. Operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs; B.W.I.
(a) A person shall not operate, attempt to operate or be in actual physical control of a vessel on the waters of this state while:
(1) there is 0.10 percent or more by weight of alcohol in his or her blood, as shown by analysis of his or her breath or blood; or
(2) under the influence of intoxicating liquor; or
(3) under the influence of any other drug or under the combined influence of alcohol and any other drug to a degree which renders the person incapable of operating safety.
(b) For purposes of this section, "intoxicating liquor" includes "alcohol", "malt beverages", "spirituous liquors" and "vinous beverages" as defined in section 2 of Title 7, and any beverage or liquid containing any of the foregoing.
(c) A person who is a habitual user of or under the influence of any narcotic drug or who is under the influence of any other drug, substance or inhalant other than intoxicating liquor to a degree which renders the person incapable of safely operating a vessel may not operate, attempt to operate or be in actual physical control of a vessel. The fact that a person charged with a violation of this section is or has been entitled to use such drug under the laws of this state shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this section.
(d) For the purposes of this section, "drug" means a regulated drug as defined in section 4201 of Title 18.
(e) A person may not be convicted of more than one offense under this section arising out of the same incident.
Section 3324. Implied Consent
Any person who operates, attempts to operate or is in actual physical control of a vessel on the waters of this state is deemed to have given consent to the taking of more than one sample of his or her breath or blood for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his or her blood. The samples shall be taken and the tests administered and analyzed consistently with the provisions of sections 1202 and 1203 of this title.
Section 3325. Permissive Inferences
(a) Upon the trial of any civil or criminal action or proceeding arising out of acts alleged to have been committed by a person while operating, attempting to operate or in actual physical control of a vessel on the waters of this state, the amount of alcohol in the persons blood or breath at the time alleged as shown by analysis of the persons blood or breath shall give rise to the following permissive inferences or presumptions;
(1) If there was at that time 0.05 percent or less by weight of alcohol in the persons blood or breath, it shall be presumed that the person was not under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
(2) If there was at that time in excess of 0.05 but less than 0.08 percent by weight of alcohol in the persons blood or breath, such fact shall not give rise to any presumption or permissive inference that the person was or was not under the influence of intoxicating liquor, but such fact may be considered with other competent evidence in determining whether the person was under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
(3) If there was at that time 0.08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in the persons blood or breath, as shown by analysis of the persons blood or breath, it shall be a permissive inference that the person was under the influence of intoxicating liquor in violation of section 3323 of this title.
(4) If there was at any time within two hours of the alleged offense, 0.15 percent or more by weight of alcohol in the persons blood or breath as shown by analysis of the persons blood or breath, it shall be a permissive inference that the person was under the influence of intoxicating liquor in violation of subdivision 3323(a)(2) or (3) of this title.
(b) Percent by weight of alcohol in the blood shall be based upon milligrams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood.
(c) The foregoing provisions shall not be construed as limiting the introduction of any other competent evidence bearing upon the question whether the person was under the influence of intoxicating liquor, nor shall they be construed as requiring that evidence of the amount of alcohol in the persons blood or breath must be preserved.
Section 3326. Refusals; Sanctions
(a) Refusals. If the person refuses to submit to an evidentiary test it shall not be given, but the refusal may be introduced as evidence in a criminal proceeding. If the person is charged with a violation of this subchapter, the court at the arraignment or as soon thereafter as is practicable shall hold a summary hearing, and take evidence relating to the reasonableness of the officers belief that the defendant was operating, attempting to operate or in actual physical control of a vessel on the waters of this state while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or other drugs, or both.
(b) Penalty; first refusal. Upon a finding by the court that the officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant was so operating, attempting to operate, or in actual physical control of a vessel on the waters of this state, the court shall impose a civil penalty of not more than $750.00. In addition, the persons privilege to operate a vessel, except a non-motorized canoe and a non-motorized rowboat, on the waters of this state shall be suspended for a period of one year and until the person complies with section 1209a of this title.
(c) Second occurrence after five years. Upon a second refusal to submit to testing and upon a finding by the court under subsection (a) of this section, if the second offense occurs more than five years after the date of the first offense for which a refusal was given, the court shall impose the same penalty and suspension as for a first refusal under this section.
(d) Second occurrence within five years. Upon a second refusal to submit to testing and upon a finding by the court under subsection (a) of this section, if the offense occurred within five years of the date of the offense for which there was a first refusal by that person, and upon final determination of an appeal, the court shall impose a civil penalty of not more than $1,000.00. In addition, the persons privilege to operate a vessel, except a non-motorized canoe and a non-motorized rowboat, on the waters of this state shall be suspended for a period of two years and until the person complies with section 1209a of this title.
Section 3381. Divers; Flag Required
(a) As used in this section:
(1) "Diver" means any person who is wholly submerged in the waters of the state and is equipped with a face mask and snorkel or "underwater breathing apparatus".
(2) "Divers-down flag" means a flag that is either square or rectangular, to approximately four units high by five units long, with a one unit diagonal stripe. The divers-down flag shall have a white diagonal stripe on a red background. The stripe shall begin at the top staff-side of the flag and extend diagonally to the opposite lower corner. The flag shall be free-flying and shall be removed when all divers are out of the water. The minimum size shall be 12 by 12 inches.
(b) All divers shall prominently display a divers-down flag in the area in which the diving occurs, other than when diving in an area customarily used for swimming only. Persons diving together as a group, in the same diving area, shall display at least one flag.
(c)A person who violates this section shall be fined not more than $100.00.
Summary of Vermont Boating Laws
Documenting Your Boat for use in Vermont
Rules for Vermont Lakes, Ponds and Reservoirs