2013 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 50 - Fish, Game and Watercraft
CHAPTER 21 - EQUIPMENT AND OPERATION OF WATERCRAFT
SECTION 50-21-870. Personal watercraft and boating safety.


SC Code § 50-21-870 (2013) What's This?

(A) As used in this section:

(1)(a) "Personal watercraft" means a boat less than sixteen feet in length which:

(i) has an outboard motor or an inboard motor which uses an internal combustion engine powering a water jet pump as its primary source of motive propulsion;

(ii) is designed with the concept that the operator and passenger ride on the outside surfaces of the vessel as opposed to riding inside the vessel;

(iii) has the probability that the operator and passenger, in the normal course of use, may fall overboard.

(b) Personal watercraft includes, without limitation, a vessel where the operator and passenger ride on the outside surfaces of the vessel, even if the primary source of motive propulsion is a propeller, and a vessel commonly known as a "jet ski".

(2) "Specialty propcraft" means a vessel which is similar in appearance and operation to a personal watercraft but is powered by an outboard or propeller-driven motor.

(3) "Class 'A' boat" means a motorboat which is less than sixteen feet in length.

(4) "Floating device" includes kneeboards, aqua planes, surfboards, saucers, inner tubes, and other similar equipment.

(B) No person may:

(1)(a) operate, be in possession of, or give permission to operate a personal watercraft or specialty propcraft while upon the waters of this State unless each person aboard the personal watercraft or specialty propcraft is wearing a United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation device, Type I, Type II, Type III, or Type V;

(b) operate, be in possession of, or give permission to operate a Class "A" motor boat while upon the waters of this State unless each person under the age of twelve aboard the Class "A" motor boat is wearing a United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation device, Type I, Type II, Type III, or Type V;

Each personal flotation device must be fastened properly, in good and serviceable condition, and the proper size for the person wearing it;

(2) operate or be in possession of a personal watercraft or specialty propcraft while upon the waters of this State after sunset or before sunrise;

(3) operate or be in possession of a personal watercraft or specialty propcraft while upon the waters of this State unless it is equipped with a self-circling device or a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch;

(4) operate or be in possession of while upon the waters of this State a personal watercraft or specialty propcraft which has been equipped by the manufacturer with a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch unless the lanyard and the switch are operational and unless the lanyard is attached to the operator, the operator's clothing, or a personal flotation device worn by the operator;

(5) operate or be in possession of while upon the waters of this State a personal watercraft or specialty propcraft which has been equipped by the manufacturer with a self-circling device if the self-circling device or the engine throttle has been altered in a way that would prohibit the self-circling device from operating in its intended manner;

(6) operate a personal watercraft, specialty propcraft, or vessel while upon the waters of this State in excess of idle speed within 50 feet of a moored or an anchored vessel, wharf, dock, bulkhead, pier, or a person in the water, or within 100 yards of the Atlantic Ocean coast line. The prohibitions contained in this item (6) do not apply to an unoccupied, moored vessel or watercraft;

(7) chase, harass, molest, worry, or disturb wildlife with a personal watercraft, specialty propcraft, or vessel except while lawfully angling for, hunting, or trapping wildlife;

(8) tow a water skier or a person on a floating device with a personal watercraft or specialty propcraft unless the watercraft is equipped with a wide-angled mirror which permits the operator to observe the person being towed or carrying a person other than the operator who is in position to observe the person being towed. No person may tow a water skier or a floating device unless the person being towed is wearing a personal flotation device as provided in item (1). A personal watercraft or specialty propcraft may be used to tow another vessel when rendering assistance;

(9)(a) operate a personal watercraft, specialty propcraft, or vessel if he is younger than sixteen years of age, unless accompanied by an adult, eighteen years or older, who is not under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of them. However, a person younger than sixteen years of age may operate a personal watercraft, specialty propcraft, or vessel without being accompanied by an adult if one or more of the following applies:

(i) the person completes a boating safety program as administered by the Department of Natural Resources; or

(ii) the person completes a boating safety program approved by the Department of Natural Resources;

(iii) anyone operating a vessel with less than fifteen horsepower engine will not be required to take the boating safety program.

(b) It is unlawful for a person who has temporary or permanent responsibility for a child to knowingly or wilfully violate item (9) of subsection (B).

(c) The Department of Natural Resources shall promulgate regulations relating to boating safety programs administered by the department or subject to its approval.

(C) It is unlawful for a person who owns a personal watercraft, specialty propcraft, or vessel, or who has charge over or control of a personal watercraft, specialty propcraft, or vessel to authorize or knowingly to permit the personal watercraft, specialty propcraft, or vessel to be operated in violation of this section.

(D) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than fifty dollars but no more than three hundred dollars.

(E) This section does not apply to:

(1) the operation of personal watercraft, specialty propcraft, or vessels by the following personnel while in the performance of their official duties:

(a) law enforcement;

(b) emergency medical;

(c) civil defense;

(d) military;

(e) state and federally approved wildlife;

(f) those involved in biological research programs;

(2) activity on private waters;

(3) performers engaged in a professional exhibition or a person preparing to participate or participating in an officially sanctioned regatta, race, marine parade, tournament, or exhibition in an area and at a time designated for that purpose.

HISTORY: 1996 Act No. 291, Section 1; 1999 Act No. 124, Section 2.P, Q.

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