New bill will lower the age of legal, solo boat operation to 13 with a boating safety certificate

A new law clarifying how young children can be to operate a boat alone and new testing requirements is working its way through the Montana legislature.

Senate Bill 259 prohibits anyone under the age of 18 to drive a boat unless accompanied by an adult, possess a motor vehicle driver’s license or become certified through a boating safety class. The new bill will lower the age of legal, solo boat operation to 13 with a boating safety certificate.

According to MontananNow.com, new testing requirements will consist of a home study program and an online exam.

Tom Rispens, owner of Montana Boat Center, told the news organisation the safety certification process is a good opportunity to talk to kids about boating safety and assure people at the helm have basic capabilities. Rispens went on to say the bill won’t change a lot, but does clarify confusion in existing law.

“I don’t know if it’s necessarily going to make it safer, but it will be a change where if you’re under 18 and going to operate a boat alone you do have to take a safety course,” Rispens said.

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