Boating Safety

Boating Safety

Who May Operate a Boat?

 Speed boat
Those less than 12 years of age:
  • May legally operate a boat powered by a motor of no more than 6 horsepower (hp) without restrictions.
  • May legally operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 6 hp but no more than 35 hp only if they are directly supervised onboard by a person at least 16 years of age.
  • May not legally operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 35 hp under any conditions.
Those 12 to 15 years of age:Sample Boating Safety Certificate
  • May legally operate a boat powered by a motor of no more than 6 hp without restrictions.
  • May legally operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 6 hp only if they:
    • Have passed a boating safety course approved by the Department of Natural Resources and have onboard their boating safety certificate or...
    • Are accompanied onboard by a person at least 16 years of age.
Those 16 years of age or older:
  • May operate any boat on the waters of Michigan. Note: see Who May Operate a PWC (Personal Water Craft) below.

Who May Operate a Personal Water Craft?

Jet ski 

No one less than 12 years old may legally operate a PWC.

A person who is 12 or more and less than 14 years of age may operate a PWC only if:
  • He or she obtained a boating safety certificate prior to January 1, 1999 or...
  • All of the following conditions are satisfied:
    • The person is accompanied solely by his or her parent or legal guardian.
    • Both the person and the parent or legal guardian have obtained a boating safety certificate.
    • The PWC is equipped with a lanyard-type ignition safety switch and the parent or legal guardian has the lanyard attached to his or her person, clothing or PFD (life jacket).
    • The PWC is designed to carry at least two people. 
Those 14 years of age or older:
  • A person born after December 31, 1978, may operate a PWC only if he or she has obtained a boating safety certificate.
  • Those born December 31, 1978, or earlier may operate a PWC without restrictions.
    (taken from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website
    http://www.boat-ed.com/michigan/boating_law.html)
You can learn more about Michigan Boating by going to the DNR Michigan Boating Safety handbook at: