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Boating Laws in Michigan – Regulations You Need to Know

Boating Laws in Michigan – Regulations You Need to Know

Are you aware of what the boating laws in Michigan are?

Summer is approaching and the weather is warming up. One of the best parts of living in Michigan are experiencing the amazing Michigan lakes in the summer time. Memorial Day is just around the corner and you might be gearing up to head to your favorite lake with your boat to enjoy time on the water, fishing, and swimming.

While these are all great experiences, it is a great time to remember the key boating laws in Michigan to ensure that you have a safe summer.

Key Boating Laws in Michigan

  • Illegal Boating
    What can get people into trouble is when they disobey certain boating laws such as dangerous operation. Dangerous operation is illegal and can get boaters into legal trouble.

    According to the Handbook of Michigan Boating Laws and Responsibilities, dangerous operations include: reckless operation. This includes reckless manipulation of water skis, a surfboard, or similar device that can be defined as operational. This is when one disregards the safety or rights of another person or property.

  • Reckless Operation
    Examples of reckless operation could look like weaving a vessel through congested waterway traffic or swerving at the last possible moment to avoid a collision. Another example could be jumping the wake of another vessel unnecessarily. Chasing, harassing, or disturbing wildlife with one’s vessel is also illegal.

  • Speed Limits
    Failure to regulate speed is another problem that boaters often get themselves into. When a boater operates a vessel at the speed that could cause danger to life or property to any other person is illegal in Michigan. In addition, it is illegal to exceed the speed limit of 55 miles per hour unless you are at least one mile offshore on the Great Lakes or Lake St. Clair.

  • Improper Distance
    Improper distance is when a vessel does not maintain the proper distance while operating a vessel or even when they are towing a person.

  • Drugs and Alcohol
    In the State of Michigan, the law treats operating a vessel on water similar to operating a car. It is illegal to operate a motorboat while one is under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The blood alcohol content should be no greater than 0.08%.

    For those individuals that were arrested for boating under the influence for a first time is considered a misdemeanor. However, if a person is arrested and convicted three times, they can be guilty of a felony. To operate on Michigan water, you have already consent to taking a test for drugs and alcohol if arrested by law enforcement.

Enforcement of Boating Laws in Michigan

When you are boating on the water of Michigan you can expect that the Michigan laws will be enforced by officers of the Law Enforcement Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, and any other authorized law enforcement agency.

Any of these agencies have the right to stop and board your vessel so that they can verify that you are adhering to both federal and state laws. It is important to realize the waters that are being federally enforced by the USCG as you have to obey both the federal, as well as, state laws.

Seeking Legal Advice

It is hard to beat the experience of enjoying Michigan waters. Boating is a great experience. However, many people find themselves in legal trouble due to incidences that happen with vessels on the water. Reckless operation, speed limits, improper distance, and drugs and alcohol are just a few of the laws that can get boaters into trouble.

If you have been charged with a boating related offense in Michigan and need to seek legal advice, please contact us today. Having a competent defense attorney by your side will help ensure you are legally represented.

248-348-7400 or 586-530-1000

You might also like to read:

5 Michigan Boating Laws You Need To KnowMichigan Boating Laws and Alcohol Limits
Boating and alcohol limits have changed in Michigan. Before you head out onto the water, make sure that you know what the changes are…

This article was published on: May 18, 2016 and was last modified May 18, 2016