Who can operate a watercraft in South Carolina?

On Behalf of | Sep 20, 2021 | blog, Injuries

South Carolina has rules about who can operate different types of watercraft. Understanding and following these laws can help prevent serious boating injuries.

Review the facts about watercraft license laws in South Carolina.

Boater education

Children and teens ages 15 and younger must pass a boater education course before operating a watercraft with more than 15 horsepower. The state allows boaters to take either a one-day in-person training program or an online self-study program followed by an exam.

All boats that operate on South Carolina and U.S. waters must have official registration and title.

Safety rules

All boaters should understand the state safety regulations before getting on the water. You may not idle with your boat within 50 feet of a person, dock, pier, wharf or anchored vessel or within 100 yards of the beach when boating in the ocean.

Your boat must have a personal flotation device for every person riding on or towed by the watercraft. Children ages 12 and younger must wear a life jacket while on board at all times. Boats shorter than 25 feet that use gas must have a fire extinguisher onboard.

Watercraft must have a whistle or bell as well as navigation lights in operation from sunset to sunrise. The state does not permit boating under the influence, speeding or other types of negligent operation.

Following the South Carolina boat operation and safety rules can help you avoid preventable accidents that may result in serious injury or death. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources manages search and rescue operations if you need assistance while boating.