Arkansas Boating Law
REGISTERING A BOAT
Boats propelled by sail or motor
(including trolling motors) of any type must be registered when operated on public waters.
Arkansas boat owners may register a
boat at the office of the County Revenue Agent in the county where the boat is principally
used or in their home county. To register any boat you must have the following: 1) proof
of ownership (current registration or bill of sale; 2) proof of personal property
assessment and proof of current paid taxes. Out-of-state boats with valid
registrations may be operated for up to 90 days without registering in Arkansas. An
identification number will be assigned to each registered boat. Homemade boats must
have a hull identification (serial) number for registrations. A H.I.N. may be may be
obtained through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Boating Division at 501-223-6379.
The operator of any boat involved in
an accident is required to immediately:
Render assistance to other persons
affected by the incident to save them or minimize danger so far as he can without serious
danger to his own boat, crew and passengers;
Give his name, address and
identification of his boat in writing to any person injured and to the owner of any
property damaged in the incident;
Notify the Arkansas Game and Fish
Commission or the local Sheriff's office of the accident so an officer can investigate the
accident. To report a boating accident, call 1-800-482-9262. Officers will
then be dispatched to the scene of the accident. Accidents involving death, injury
or property damage of $500 or more must be reported.
Over half of boating fatalities
are fishermen who fall out of small boats that capsize from movement within the boat,
overloading or hitting a submerged object.
Refer to Arkansas Game
and Fish Commission Lands, Lakes and Accesses for boating regulations specific to
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Lakes.
LIGHTS: Boats must be equipped with
the prescribed lights during darkness.
On state-controlled waters, lights on
boats, including those on non-powered boats, must be sufficient to make the boats
presence and location known to any other vessel within a reasonable distance. An
example is shown below.
federally-controlled waters, non-powered boats must have a readily accessible light source
to be used in sufficient time to prevent a collision. Motorboats operating on
federally-controlled waters must have a combination red and green light on the bow and a
white light aft. An example of a readily available light source is shown below.
FIRE EXTINGUISHERS are required of
inboard boats, open boats with built-in fuel tanks and boats with bilges where flammable
gases may accumulate.
CHILDREN under age 12 may not operate
a boat powered by a motor over 10 horsepower except when under the direct supervision of a
person over 17.
SPEEDING in excess of 5 m.p.h. within
100 feet of a recreation area, dock, pier, raft, float, anchored boat or dam intake or
other obstruction is illegal.
SCUBA: A divers flag means that
scuba divers are in the water nearby. Slow down and use caution within 100 yards of a
flag. Avoid operating a boat in the vicinity of a divers flag. More information
about scuba is on the Fishing
BOAT CAPACITY: Loading a vessel beyond
its stated safe carrying capacity is illegal.
CORPS OF ENGINEERS: No vessel may
enter within 100 yards downstream of a Army Corps of Engineers dam. Operating a vessel in
any manner contrary to signs, markers or buoys placed by the Corps controlling speed,
skiing or operation of vessels is prohibited.
OPERATION: Operation of any vessel, water-ski(s) or similar devices in a reckless or
negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person is
prohibited; including but not limited to, weaving through congested vessel traffic,
operating within 100 feet of a towboat that is underway, jumping the wake of another
vessel too close to such other vessel, or when visibility around such other vessel is
obstructed and swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision shall constitute
reckless operation of a vessel. Operation of a vessel in negligent manner, including
but not limited to, inattentive operation, failure to keep a proper lookout, failure to
observe the inland navigation rules of the road as implemented by the United States Coast
Guard, or operating in a manner which results in a collision with another vessel of object
Persons under 12 years of age may not
operate a boat powered by more than 10 horsepower except under the direct and audible
supervision of a parent, guardian, or other person over 17 years old.
Operation at such a rate of speed as
to create hazardous wash or wake upon approaching or passing vessels is prohibited.
Operation at a speed exceeding 5 miles
per hour within 100 feet of a designated recreation area, a dock, pier, raft, float, boat,
dam intake structure, or other obstruction is prohibited unless a contrary speed limit as
Operators of vessels 26 feet or less
in length may not allow any person to ride or sit on the gunwales or on the decking over
the bow while underway unless they are engaged with adequate guards or railing to prevent
passengers from being lost overboard. This does not prevent fishing from a forward
deck while under the power of a trolling motor.
Loading a vessel beyond its safe
carrying capacity as stated on the manufacturers capacity plate or overpowering a boat
with a motor that exceeds the maximum safe horsepower on the capacity plate is prohibited.
No person shall operate or give
permission for the operation of a motorboat which is not properly equipped or numbered.
Sirens are prohibited except on law
Operating a boat while under the
influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited. A blood alcohol level of .10%
establishes that the operator is under the influence. Operators who register .10%
or above are subject to arrest. Any person who operates a boat on the waters of the
state is consenting to a test to determine if they are intoxicated.
PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES: PFDs
Boats under 16-feet long, canoes and
kayaks must have one wearable (Type I, II or III) PFD in serviceable condition and of
proper size for each person on board.
Boats, 16 feet or longer, must have
one wearable (Type I, II or III) PFD in serviceable condition and of proper size for each
person on board and one Type IV (throwable) PFD in each boat.
CHILDREN under the age of 13 must wear
a well-fitting PFD at all times while aboard a boat. The only exceptions are when they are
within the enclosed area of a houseboat, cruiser or within the railings of a party barge
while the boat is not underway.
PERSONAL WATERCRAFT: Occupants of
personal watercraft (such as Jet skis, Sea-doos, etc.) are required to wear PFDs.
WATER SKIERS must wear a Type I, II,
III or V PFD. Water-skiing is not allowed from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour
before sunrise. Boats towing water-skiers must have, in addition to the driver, an
observer at least 12 years of age or a wide angle convex marine mirror to observe the
person being towed.
Type I PFD, or offshore life jacket,
provides the most buoyancy. It is effective for all waters, especially open, rough or
remote waters where rescue may be delayed. It is designed to turn most unconscious wearers
in the water to a face-up position. The Type I comes in two sizes. The adult size provides
at least 22 pounds buoyancy, the child size, 11 pounds.
Type II PFD, or
near-shore buoyant vest, is intended for calm, inland water or where there is a good
chance of quick rescue. This type will turn some unconscious wearers to a face-up position
in the water but not as effectively as a Type I device. An adult size device provides at
least 15½ pounds buoyancy, a child size provides 11 pounds. Infant sizes provide at least
seven pounds buoyancy.
Type III PFD, or
flotation aid, is intended for calm, inland water where there is a good chance of quick
rescue. It is designed so conscious wearers can place themselves in a face-up position in
the water. The wearer may have to tilt his head back to avoid turning face-down in the
water. Examples of Type III PFDs are float coats, fishing vests and vests designed with
features suitable for various sports.
Type IV PFD, or
throwable device, is intended for calm, inland water with heavy boat traffic where help is
always present. It is designed to be thrown to a person in the water and grasped and held
by the user until rescued. It is not designed to be worn. Type IV devices include buoyant
cushions, ring buoys and horseshoe buoys.
Type V PFD, is a
special use device intended for specific activities and may be carried instead of another
PFD only if used according to the approval condition on the label. Some Type V devices
provide significant hypothermia protection. Varieties include deck suits, work vests,
board sailing vests, and inflatable PFDs. If a type V PFD is used in place of a type
I, II or III, it must be worn at all times.
victims of fatal boating accidents died because
they weren't wearing a PFD.