New Texas law requires boater certification course

New Texas law requires boater certification course

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV)- Starting this September a new law will require everyone born after September 1, 1993 to take a boater certification course.

Currently, only children between the ages of 13 and 17 have to take the course if they want to operate a boat or jet ski without an adult.

In the past, the course has been optional for adults

Like many East Texans, Bob and Colton Hairford are no strangers to boating.
But Colton was born in 1996, so if he ever decides to take a boat out on the lake, whether he's 15 years old or 50 years old, he'll have to take a certification course first.

"I think it'll actually help take down the accidents and everything because some people may just not know what to do," said Colton Hairford.

His Uncle agrees.

"There's a lot of people who could benefit from knowing what the actual laws are, the rules of the road, if you will," said Bob Hairford.

Texas Parks and Wildlife said it's a matter of safety on the water.

"It's going to cut back on personal injury and some of the crashes we have on our bodies of water in the state of Texas," said Chris Green from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The certification course can be completed three different ways-- classroom training, as a home study course, or online. Since the whole thing only takes about six hours to complete, most people don't think it'll be a huge inconvenience.

"Most of the teenagers are online anyway so it wouldn't be any great hassle for them to do it," said Bob Hairford.

But others aren't so welcoming of the new law.

"Safety wise I don't think there's going to be any difference. You either know how to drive a boat or you don't," said Mark Landon, another boater.

And while the law goes into effect less than two months from today, Texas Parks and Wildlife said they'll gradually enforce it.

"We're not going to start hammering people with citations and taking them to jail and taking their jet-skis.. We're going to have a phase in period," said Green.

Still, he said people driving boats or jet skis with 15 horse power or more need to take the course and carry proof of certification with them when they're on the water.

Failure to abide by the new law will be considered a Class C misdemeanor.
Violators will have 90 days to prove that they've completed the boater certification course if they want the charges dismissed.

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