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Do You Need a Boating License in Texas?

Boating is a Texan pastime. The state’s many lakes, rivers, and beaches are a perfect location to enjoy being on the water. If you’re looking to own a boat or have fun in one for a day, you might be wondering what the state’s requirements for boating licenses are.

While cars require drivers’ education, a written test, and a proficiency test on the road, the same standards don’t exist to operate a boat in Texas. In fact, for better or worse, some people can behind the controls of a vessel with absolutely no training.

Who Needs a Boat License in Texas?

Texas law requires all boat operators who were born on or after September 1, 1993 to pass a safety course and carry a boater education card—commonly referred to as a boat license. Importantly, this course is required only for people who want to operate a boat that’s more than 15 hp or a sailboat that exceeds a length of 14 feet.

The youngest a person can be to obtain a boater education card in Texas is 13 years old. However, a person below the age of 18 is not able to operate any type of vessel alone in Texas.

Are Texas Boating Laws Enough to Prevent Accidents?

Some critics of Texas boating laws assert that getting a boat license in the state is too easy. While boater education cards are required for most boat operators, they can be obtained by taking a quick online course and never require any physical interaction with a boat.

Additionally, critics of boat license requirements in Texas point out that the state’s law places dedicated boaters at risk. While most boat owners are safe, someone born on or before September 1, 1993 can rent a boat and operate it with no license. For many, this is like letting a person who has never driven a car before getting the chance to do so just because they've rented it!

Inexperienced boaters who are renting for a day might be more likely to:

  • Take risks
  • Ignore safety practices
  • Operate their boat recklessly
  • Drink and boat

Alcohol & Boating: A Serious Problem in Texas

Boats are exempt from the open container laws that govern other motor vehicles in the state. Texas law allows open alcohol containers to be present in any passenger area on a boat. Knowing this might make it less surprising that Texas Parks and Wildlife has found that alcohol is a factor in 50 percent of all boating accidents. Additionally, a 2019 report revealed that Texas has the fifth-highest amount of boating incidents involving injury, death, or property damage.

Our Texas Boating Accident Lawyers Have Recovered Billions for Clients

If you’ve been in a boating accident, it’s likely that someone could have prevented it and failed to do so. At Arnold & Itkin LLP, our team is focused on fighting for the results clients need to rebuild after suffering from the negligence of others. We can work to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and any other damages caused by your boating incident.

Call our Texas boat accident lawyers now at (888) 493-1629 for a free consultation of your case. Importantly, we only collect payment if we win results on your behalf.

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