A measure to require boaters to pass a boating education examination and obtain a vessel operator card in order to operate a motorized boat in California is on its way to Governor Brown’s desk. Senate Bill 941, joint authored by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), passed off of the Senate Floor earlier this week.
“This legislation is needed to enhance public safety on the state’s waterways and minimize the loss of life, personal injury, and property damage,” said Senator Monning. “Requiring first time boaters to pass a safety exam will save lives and decrease the number of boating accidents in California.”
“California cannot afford to remain behind the rest of the nation when it comes to boater safety,” Senator DeSaulnier said. “Legislation similar to SB 941 has proven to save lives in other states. Increasing safety standards will allow Californians to enjoy our incredible waterways with a greater peace of mind.”
SB 941 will require the Division of Boating and Waterways to develop a vessel operator card and issue it to individuals who provide proof that they have passed an approved examination. Beginning on January 1, 2018, the requirement to possess a Division vessel operator card will apply to operators 20 years of age or younger, with a staggered implementation date thereafter, depending on the age of the individual, until it eventually applies to everyone in 2025.
California is one of only five states that do not require individuals to take a boating safety course before operating a vessel. Senator Monning and Senator DeSaulnier introduced the legislation after hearing from constituents who have been involved in accidents with unsafe boaters that did not have the proper knowledge to operate a vessel.