Boating Safety in Vermont





WILLISTON -- The Vermont State Police Marine Division is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for ensuring the safety of the recreating public on Vermont waterways. In addition to enforcing marine laws, the division provides many education programs designed to make the waterways safer for everyone. With the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, the Vermont State Police Marine Division would like to remind all boaters of the following state boating laws:

  • Those born after January 1, 1974, must have successfully completed an approved boating safety education course to legally operate any motorized vessel, including a personal watercraft.
  • All vessels must carry a USCG wearable personal floatation device (PFD) for each person on board. This includes canoes, kayaks and paddle boards.
  • All children under the age of 12 must wear a Type I, Type II, or Type III USCG-approved Personal floatation device while underway on the open deck of any vessel.
  • An operator must stop his or her vessel when signaled to do so by a trooper wearing an identifying insignia or by a state police vessel sounding a siren or displaying a blue light. It is unlawful to fail to stop or attempt to elude the trooper. The trooper has the authority to stop and board vessels to check for compliance with state and federal laws.
  • To legally operate a vessel propelled by a motor on the public waters of Vermont, the vessel must have a Vermont Certificate of Registration and validation sticker.
  • The certificate of registration must be onboard and available for inspection by an enforcement officer whenever the vessel is being operated.
  • Vermont law prohibits the discharge of any sewage, treated or untreated, into the state's waters. Vessels equipped with a marine toilet must have a wastewater holding system to prevent the discharge of waste products into surrounding waters. All discharge lines, pipes or hoses associated with the holding tank must be disconnected and stored while the vessel is on Vermont waters.
  • The noise level of a motorized vessel measured at a distance of 50 feet or more from the vessel must not exceed 82 decibels in normal operating environments.
  • It is unlawful to operate a vessel at greater than "no wake speed "within 200 feet of:

    1) The shoreline;

    2) A person in the water;

    3) A canoe, rowboat or other vessel;

    4) An anchored or moored vessel with a person onboard; or

    5) An anchorage or dock.

  • A vessel must be operated at a speed of 5 miles per hour or less within 200 feet of a marked swimming area. ("No Wake Speed" means to operate at vessel at a speed at which the vessel does not produce a wake, or not to exceed 5 miles per hour.)
  • Vermont State law prohibits anyone from boating while intoxicated (BWI) due to alcohol, drugs or any combination of both.

Please visit the Vermont State Police website for further information regarding boating education classes.


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