Personal Watercraft (PWC) at Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries Regs

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Restrictions on Operation

It shall be unlawful for any person to:

Operate a personal watercraft unless he is at least sixteen years of age, except any person fourteen or fifteen years of age shall be allowed to operate a personal watercraft if he (i) has successfully completed a boating safety education course approved by the Director and (ii) carries on his person, while operating a personal watercraft, proof of successful completion of such course. Upon the request of a law-enforcement officer, such person shall provide proof of having successfully completed an approved course;
Beginning July 1, 2009, other PWC operators will need to comply with our boating safety education requirement.
Operate a personal watercraft unless each person riding on the personal watercraft is wearing a type I, type II, type III, or type V personal flotation device approved by the United State Coast Guard;
Fail to attach the lanyard to his person, clothing, or personal flotation device, if the personal watercraft is equipped with a lanyard-type engine cut-off switch;
Operate a personal watercraft on the waters of the Commonwealth between sunset and sunrise;
Operate a personal watercraft while carrying a number of passengers in excess of the number for which the craft was designed by the manufacturer; or Operate a personal watercraft in excess of the slowest possible speed required to maintain steerage and headway within fifty feet of docks, piers, boathouses, boat ramps, people in the water, and vessels other than personal watercraft. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a personal watercraft from towing a person with a rope less than fifty feet in length.
Note: The above provisions do not apply to participants in regattas, races, marine parades, tournament or exhibitions approved by the Board of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or the United States Coast Guard.

Reckless Operation

A person shall be guilty of reckless operation who operates any personal watercraft recklessly or at a speed or in such a manner as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person, which shall include, but not be limited to:

weaving through vessels that are underway, stopped, moored or at anchor while exceeding a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time;
following another vessel or person on water skis or similar device, crossing the path of another vessel, or jumping the wake of another vessel more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vessels and the traffic on and the condition of the waters at the time;
crossing between the towing vessel and a person on water skis or other device; or
steering toward an object or person and turning sharply in close proximity to such object or person in order to spray or attempt to spray the object or person with the wash or jet spray of the personal watercraft.

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