Boating Laws in Ohio

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Boating Laws in Ohio

July 12, 2016
By jhartle@lgslaw.net

With summertime quickly already here, many Ohioans are looking forward to spending free time enjoying some of the beautiful Midwest lakes. While summer is an exciting time for many, there are various regulations boaters as well as passengers must follow. Regulations on boating and accidents are similar to those of motor vehicle accidents.

Ohio Laws

In Ohio, if a powercraft is over 10 horsepower, the driver must either pass a boating safety course that is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, or pass an examination by the Ohio Division of watercraft, subject to a few exceptions. Additionally, the driver of the boat who passes one of these requirements must be over the age of 16 years old, while those 12 to 15 years old may operate a watercraft with the supervision of someone 18 years or older who holds a license.

Operating Under the Influence

What many boaters do not realize is that there are just as strict of penalties for driving a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs as there are for driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ohio, like many states, considers it an offense to operate a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more if over the age of 21 years old. If the driver is under 21 years old, a blood alcohol content of .02 or more is an actionable offense. Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources, the agency responsible for monitoring waterways, has taken this issue very seriously. In 2011, there were 35 boating accidents linked to alcohol consumption as the primary cause, however, in 2014, there were only roughly a fifth of those accidents. This could be due to the penalties instituted for driving a boat while intoxicated seen below.


  • First Offense: minimum three days in jail and $150 fine; maximum six months in jail with a $1,000 fine,
  • Second Offense: minimum of ten days in jail with $150 fine; maximum six months in jail  with a $1,000 fine,
  • Third Offense: minimum of 30 days in jail with a $150 fine; maximum of one year in jail with a $1,000 fine,
  • If the driver refuses to take a test to determine their intoxication, they will be prohibited from operating or registering a boat for 12 months.

Reach Out to Us for Assistance

If you have a suffered injury from a boating accident, you may be entitled to damages. To further explore your legal options, contact the attorneys at Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, LLC. We are conveniently located in Toledo, OH and have over 40 years of experience helping those with a personal injury issue to achieve satisfactory results. Please feel free to call our office at 419-241-5500 or email us, using our website.










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