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Texas Boating Laws: Rules of the Water

Safety Is The Most Important Goal

The rules for boating in Texas, whether you are fishing, camping or just out for a ride, are similar to the rules for driving on the state’s roads, with the emphasis on safety. Unsafe behaviors can mean the difference between leisurely boating on Dallas-Fort Worth area waterways or facing some serious legal charges.

Anyone born on or after Sept. 1, 1993, must complete a Boat Education Course to operate either a personal watercraft or a boat with a horsepower of 15 hp or more. More information is available at the Texas Parks & Wildlife site.

Safety is stressed in the course and is important because boating accidents and fatalities are on the rise from Lake Benbrook, Possum Kingdom Lake and Eagle Mountain Lake to Lewisville Lake, Joe Pool Lake and Lake Ray Hubbard. Accidents statewide increased from 146 in 2013 to 170 in 2017, while deaths more than doubled, from 31 to 63.

'Open Container' Law

Making matters more confusing, the rules are not the same on all bodies of water. In addition to rules imposed by the Texas Water Safety Act, local governing bodies can adopt their own regulations. To learn about special rules, contact the local governing entity.

Alcohol can play also play a role, unfortunately. While the “open container” law, which prohibits the possession of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle, does not apply to watercraft, before packing your coolers with Lone Star or Bud Light, you need to follow one of the same rules as a highway motorist – appoint a designated driver. That’s because your driver’s license can be suspended if you are arrested for operating a boat while intoxicated.

Don’t Let a Boat Accident Sink Your Summer

If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, you could be suffering from major injuries, including traumatic brain and spinal injuries, broken bones, cuts and bruises, concussions and hypothermia. In addition to being unable to work and support your family, the negligent boater who caused your injuries may be blaming you for the crash. As you combat physical, mental and emotional strain, an insurance company that knows you are desperate may make a lowball financial offer.

Fort Worth boating accident attorney Coby L. Wooten, of Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C. has experience investigating accidents just like yours. He can determine what reckless behavior caused your injuries – alcohol, speeding, distracted driving or an inexperienced boat operator. He will fight for your rights and fair compensation for your pain and suffering. Contact him today for a free consultation. Wooten works on a contingency fee basis, so you pay nothing unless he wins your case.

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