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Louisiana State’s Legal Requirements for Boats and Operators


Keeping it Safe on the Coast

Without a doubt, one of the best ways to spend a nice day is out on the Louisiana coast. Just a hop, skip, and jump away from New Orleans, sits some of the most beautiful waters in all of the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, all of us at Shlosman Law Firm love to enjoy our days off out on the water. The coast is an important part of our community. Familiarizing yourself with Louisiana State’s Legal Requirements for Boats and Operators is a sure way to make sure to keep the good times rolling on the water.

If you aren’t careful, however, tragedy can strike – even out on the water. Accidents are an unfortunate part of life, and the same is true both on land and at sea. So, while you’re out there enjoying your boating adventure, always remember to keep safety in mind.

It’s important to know, understand, and abide by the Louisiana Requirements for Boats and Operators. These laws affect you whenever you’re involved in an offshore boating accident. Familiarize yourself with them, then contact Shlosman Law Firm and explain your situation. We have been working in the NOLA community for years and have dealt with many cases involving maritime law, and we’re ready to help you with your case, too.

Requirements for Boats

While this list is not all- inclusive, it does contain the most important Louisiana requirements for boats and operators. Before getting out on the water, you should become familiar with this list. These requirements have been adapted from the LA Wildlife & Fisheries’ page, which should be viewed for further details. Also, remember that legal requirements may vary according to your vessel’s size.

10 Requirements for Boats

  1. Louisiana law requires a boat registration to be on board.
  2. According to the law, Any decals, numbers, or other indicators, provided by the state, must be clearly visible.
  3. All vessels less than 26 feet must have a fire extinguisher (approved by the U.S. Coast Guard) on board the vessel at all times.
  4. Navigation lights are required of all water-crafts (though specific requirements vary by vessel). White lights must have a visibility range of two miles.
  5. It’s required to have a sounding device present, including either a bell or whistle.
  6. It is prohibited to overload boats with too many people or too much cargo. External factors like weather and water conditions may affect general overloading standards. What may be acceptable to haul in clear weather, may not be acceptable to haul in a storm.
  7. It is also prohibited to overpower boats with engines that are too powerful for the intent and construction of the vessel. This can endanger the lives of your passengers and fellow boaters.
  8. Mufflers, or underwater exhausts, are required for all boats in Louisiana.
  9. All vessels must have the necessary ventilation systems for safe operation.
  10. There are four classes of water vessels recognized in the State of Louisiana: Class A, 1, 2, and 3. It is the owner’s/operator’s responsibility to know which legal requirements are applicable for the class of your vessel.

Requirements for Operators

Just as important as the vessel’s requirements are those for the operators. Many may not realize that failure to obey these laws could mean serious legal consequences – even if you’re on the open waters. Make sure that you read up on these laws, and agree to follow them, it’s important to be educated as much as possible in order to keep yourself and others safe.

As with vessel requirements, this operator requirements list has been adapted from the LA Wildlife & Fisheries’ page.

10 Requirements for Operators

  1. Boating safety courses are recommended for all but are required for those born after January 1, 1984.
  2. Boat registration must be consistently maintained by law. When expired, the operator must renew registration within 60 days of expiration. 
  3.  Personal flotation device (PFD) must be worn by all passengers. All children 16 years and younger are required to wear their PFDs while the vessel is in operation. 
  4. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to operate a boat. Anyone who knowingly allows someone under 16 to operate a watercraft (including renting a watercraft to someone under 16) is subject to punishment.
  5. Boats should be operated in a “careful and responsible” manner. Irresponsible behavior includes weaving through boat traffic, speeding, endangering other boats or wildlife, and other reckless operations.
  6. It is illegal to operate a vessel in a restricted area, including in swimming areas.
  7. Owning or operating a watercraft on which the serial or hull identification number has been tampered with or removed is strictly forbidden.
  8. For vessels under 26 feet in length, it’s prohibited from riding on the boat decks or gunwales when the boat is in motion and where there isn’t adequate railing to protect passengers.
  9. Boat operators are required by law to stop at the scene and to report the accident (or any other event involving loss, damage, or injury) to the proper authorities within five days.
  10. It is strictly prohibited to use alcohol, drugs, or otherwise be intoxicated while operating a watercraft.

Contact Us Today

Have you experienced an accident, injury, or other issue that involves one or more of these Louisiana Requirements for Boats and Operators? Whether you’re at fault for a boating accident or not, you simply can’t expect the result to go away just because they didn’t take place on land. Rather, you need an attorney to help you in this situation.

Contact Shlosman Law Firm regarding your maritime accident. We’ve served the NOLA community in countless accidents and investigations involving maritime law, so we understand its nuances. We may be able to do the same for your case, but only after you contact us.

To get started and explore your options, schedule a free case evaluation by calling 504-826-9427, or requesting more information online.