A portion of Act 693, known as "Rachel's Law," took effect July 10, raising the minimum age to 16 years old for individuals to legally operate a personal watercraft alone. Previously, the minimum age had been 14 years old to operate a personal watercraft, which includes Jet Skis, Sea-Doos and WaveRunners.
While the law primarily affects teen boaters, other age groups are under its influence, too.
"This is the first time the boating education law applies to someone besides the operator," said Bob Cushing, AGFC boating education coordinator. Indeed, boat operators between 12 and 15 years of age may operate a personal watercraft only when accompanied by an individual at least 18 years old who was born before 1986 or has a valid boating education certificate. Additionally, the accompanying person must be in position to take immediate control of the vessel.
Boat operators under age 12 may operate a personal watercraft only if accompanied by an individual at least 21 years old who was born before 1986 or has a valid boating education certificate. Again, this accompanying individual must lawfully be in position to take immediate control of the personal watercraft.
By law, all Arkansas boat operators born after Jan. 1, 1986, must complete an approved AGFC boating education course.
A course may be completed in any of the following ways: in an instructor-led course free of charge, online for $15, or, for a limited time, via a home study course which includes a DVD or video available for purchase online.
For more information about boating courses, visit www.agfc.com/boating and click on "Boating Education," or call 877-493-6424.