2020 Code of Alabama
Title 33 - Navigation and Watercourses.
Chapter 5 - Registration and Operation of Vessels.
Article 2 - Boating Safety Reform.
Section 33-5-51 - Operation of Personal Watercraft.

Universal Citation: AL Code § 33-5-51 (2020)

Section 33-5-51

Operation of personal watercraft.

(a) As used in this section, "personal watercraft" means a vessel which uses an inboard motor powering a water jet pump as its primary source of motive power and which is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling on the vessel, rather than the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside the vessel.

(b) A person may not operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this state, as waters are defined in Section 33-5-3, unless each person operating, riding on, or being towed by the vessel is wearing a personal flotation device approved by the United States Coast Guard, in accordance with rules and regulations by the Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

(c) A person operating a personal watercraft on the waters of this state that does not have self circling capability, shall have a lanyard type engine cutoff switch and must attach the lanyard to the person, clothing, or personal flotation device as is appropriate.

(d) A personal watercraft shall at all times be operated on the waters of this state in a reasonable and prudent manner. Maneuvers which endanger life, limb, or property, or create a public nuisance, including, but not limited to the following, weaving through congested vessel traffic at high speed, following closely behind within the wake of a vessel towing a person or persons on water skis, surfboard, or other water sport device, jumping the wake of another vessel travelling in the same direction in close proximity to the vessel, cutting between a boat and the person or persons being towed by that boat, or crossing at right angles in close proximity to the stern of another vessel or when visibility around the other vessel is obstructed, or steering a vessel toward any object or person in the water and turning sharply at close range so as to spray the object or person, shall all constitute the reckless operation of a vessel, as provided in subsection (a) of Section 33-5-70. Any person violating this subsection shall be punished upon conviction as provided in Section 33-5-70.

(e) No person under the age of 12 shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this state, and persons who are at least 12 and over may only operate personal watercraft on the waters of this state to the extent otherwise permitted by law.

(f) It is unlawful for the owner of any personal watercraft or any person having charge over or control of a personal watercraft to authorize or knowingly permit these to be operated on the waters of this state by a person in violation of this section.

(g) No person shall tow any person by personal watercraft unless the personal watercraft is equipped with a rearview mirror meeting the specifications established by regulation of the Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

(h) Any person who violates this section, except as otherwise provided in subsection (d), shall be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor, punishable upon conviction as provided in Sections 13A-5-7 and 13A-5-12. All persons so convicted shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars ($25). All fines collected for violation of this section shall be paid into the State Water Safety Fund.

(i) This section does not apply to a performer engaged in a professional exhibition or a person participating in a regatta, race, marine parade, tournament, or exhibition held in compliance with Section 33-5-27, and any rules and regulations issued by the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources.

(Acts 1994, No. 94-652, p. 1243, §4; Act 2001-695, p. 1477, §3.)

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