Texas Boating Laws
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed December 05, 2016
This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy, clarity, and style by FindLaw’s team of legal writers and attorneys and in accordance with our editorial standards.
The last updated date refers to the last time this article was reviewed by FindLaw or one of our contributing authors. We make every effort to keep our articles updated. For information regarding a specific legal issue affecting you, please contact an attorney in your area.
The regulation of motor vehicles in Texas doesn't stop at the roads and highways. Texas boating laws also provide oversight on the operation of boats on the many Texas waterways. However, the regulation of these two kinds of vessels differs significantly. The following article provides an overview to help ensure that your compliance with Texas boating laws is watertight.
Vessel Titling and Registration
Texas boating laws require that all motorized boats, sailboats larger than 14 feet or with an auxiliary engine, and all internal combustion outboard motors must be registered and bear a certificate of title. These documents establish the ownership and responsibility for the craft in question.
Although the rules relating to the operation of boats is more liberal than the rules for operating other kinds of motor vehicles, there are still some basic requirements that must be met under Texas law. Texas does not issue a boating license, but there are age and education requirements for the operation of some boats. The chart below provides an overview of these requirements.
Boating and Alcohol
Boating has some similarities and distinctions from automobile operation when it comes to alcohol possession and use. Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs (BUI) is prohibited. The chart below contains information about alcohol possession, intoxication, and other issues relating to alcohol and Texas boating laws.
Texas Boating Laws: The Basics
|Age & Education Requirements||
Boater age and education requirements exist for the following watercraft:
A person under the age of 13 can only operate a boat if they are supervised by a person over 18 years of age who is qualified to operate the boat in question and is onboard while the vessel is underway.
Those 13 and older may operate a boat without supervision if they have passed a boater education course accepted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD.) Completion of such a course results in the issuance of a Boater Education Card, which vessel operators are required to carry with them and present for inspection to Texas law enforcement officers upon request. Boaters are also required to carry a photo ID. Not carrying the Boater Education Card can result in a fine.
Those born before September 1, 1993 are not subject to the boater education requirement, though completion of a boater education program may reduce insurance costs.
|Boating Under the Influence||
A boating accident must be reported to the TPWD or the nearest law enforcement agency within 30 days of the incident if:
Operators of vessels involved in an accident also have many of the same obligations held by motorists involved in accidents, including the obligation to stay, render assistance, and to provide information to those injured.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
Find Out More About Texas Boating Laws
Texas boating laws involve much more complexity than is practical to discuss here. Whether you have been accused of reckless or negligent operation of a vehicle, or have incensing issues or problems with your boat itself, a lawyer can help unravel the law. You'll want to consult with a local Texas boating attorney in your area to get your specific questions answered today.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.