Personal Watercraft Safety (PWC)
Boating with PWC
Personal Watercraft, often called Jet Ski's or Wave Runners, are the fastest growing form of boating in Maryland and across the United States. There are over 12,000 registered PWC in the state and the Safety Education Section wants to make sure that all owners and operators ride in a responsible manner. The following brochure provides information regarding the rules and regulations for riding in Maryland as well as several safety tips to make your ride more enjoyable. Remember, a PWC is a boat and must follow all the rules of the road. The waterways are for everyone to enjoy so, please respect the rights of others and practice common courtesy while riding.
In Maryland, all registered PWC must display a Maryland PWC Regulations Sticker on their craft. An individual may not operate or give permission to operate a PWC unless this sticker, approved by the Natural Resources Police, is attached properly. It must be attached on the upper half of the vessel in such a manner that the operator can clearly read the information on the sticker. It may not be placed underneath any compartments such as the front hatch or under the seat cover. The sticker is available in two colors. Utilize the appropriate color sticker in accordance with the color of your vessel (i.e., dark color vessels should use the sticker with the white lettering and vessels which are white or light in color should use the sticker with navy blue lettering). Click on the following link to view this regulations sticker. If you would like to request a copy of this sticker, please feel free to contact the Safety Education Section at (410) 643-8502 and one will be mailed to you. All owners who have registered their craft in Maryland will receive a sticker at the time of registration as well as with their renewal documents.
Personal Watercraft Safety (PWC) Regulations
- Be at least 16 years of age to operate.
- Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
- Carry a certificate of boater safety education if born on or after July 1, 1972.
- Maintain 6 knots or slower within 100 feet of another PWC, vessel, shore, pier, piling, bridge structure, abutment or people in the water.
- Have PWC equipped with an operating self-circling device or kill switch.
YOU MAY NOT...
- Operate above idle speed in water less than 18 inches in depth.
- Operate between sunset and sunrise.
- Jump, or attempt jumping, the wake of another vessel within 100 feet of that vessel.
- Operate within 300 feet of people in the water or surf fishing activities in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Disturb waterfowl and wildlife.
- Operate in a reckless and/or negligent manner.
RESPECT OTHERS; RIDE RESPONSIBLY!
PWCs are great fun but also can create dangerous situations when operated by people not familiar with the regulations governing their operation and the differences between a PWC and a boat. As with all boats, PWCs have no brakes, but they also have no reverse used for stopping forward momentum. Further, as a jet drive device, PWCs had no rudder or steering control once the engine is at idle.
These regulations are designed to help prevent accidents from occurring. Fines up to $500 for violating these regulations. This is only a summary of MD regulations as of 04/04. For more information contact (410) 643-8502 or (410) 260-8888 (24 hours).
An individual may not operate or give permission to operate a personal watercraft, required to be numbered in this State, on the water of this State unless a regulation sticker approved by the Department is attached to the personal watercraft. This sticker must be attached on the upper half of the vessel in such a manner that the operator can clearly read the information on the sticker. It may not be placed underneath any compartments such as the front hatch or under the seat cover. Utilize the appropriate color sticker in accordance with the color of the vessel (i.e., cark color vessels should use the sticker with white lettering and vessels which are white or light in color should use the sticker with navy blue lettering).
If you have any questions or concerns in regards to the placement of this sticker, please call the Natural Resources Police Safety Education Section at (410) 643-8502 for further instructions.