§ 75A-13.3. Personal watercraft.
(a) No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the
waters of this State at any time between sunset and sunrise.
For purposes of this section, "personal watercraft"
means a small vessel which uses an outboard or propeller-driven
motor, or an inboard motor powering a water jet pump, as
its primary source of motive power and which is designed
to be operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling
on, or being towed behind the vessel, rather than in the
conventional manner of sitting or standing inside the vessel.
(a1) No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the
waters of this State at greater than no-wake speed within
100 feet of an anchored or moored vessel, a dock, pier,
swim float, marked swimming area, swimmers, surfers, persons
engaged in angling, or any manually operated propelled vessel,
unless the personal watercraft is operating in a narrow
channel. No person shall operate a personal watercraft in
a narrow channel at greater than no-wake speed within 50
feet of an anchored or moored vessel, a dock, pier, swim
float, marked swimming area, swimmers, surfers, persons
engaged in angling, or any manually operated propelled vessel.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, no
person under 16 years of age shall operate a personal watercraft
on the waters of this State, and it is unlawful for the
owner of a personal watercraft or a person who has temporary
or permanent responsibility for a person under the age of
16 to knowingly allow that person to operate a personal
watercraft. A person of at least 14 years of age but under
16 years of age may operate a personal watercraft on the
waters of this State if:
(1) The person is accompanied by a person of at least 18
years of age who physically occupies the watercraft; or
(2) The person (i) possesses on his or her person while
operating the watercraft, identification showing proof of
age and a boater safety certification card issued by the
Wildlife Resources Commission or proof of other satisfactory
completion of a boating safety education course approved
by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators
(NASBLA); and (ii) produces that identification and certification
card upon the request of an officer of the Wildlife Resources
Commission or local law enforcement agency.
(c) No livery shall lease, hire, or rent a personal watercraft
to or for operation by a person under 16 years of age, except
as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
(c1) It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation
to engage in the business of renting personal watercraft
to the public for operation by the rentee unless such person,
firm, or corporation has secured insurance for his own liability
and that of his rentee, in such an amount as is hereinafter
provided, from an insurance company duly authorized to sell
liability insurance in this State. Each such personal watercraft
rented must be covered by a policy of liability insurance
insuring the owner and rentee and their agents and employees
while in the performance of their duties against loss from
any liability imposed by law for damages including damages
for care and loss of services because of bodily injury to
or death of any person and injury to or destruction of property
caused by accident arising out of the operation of such
personal watercraft, subject to the following minimum limits:
three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000) per occurrence.
(d) No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the
waters of this State, nor shall the owner of a personal
watercraft knowingly allow another person to operate that
personal watercraft on the waters of this State, unless:
(1) Each person riding on or being towed behind such vessel
is wearing a type I, type II, type III, or type V personal
flotation device approved by the United States Coast Guard.
Inflatable personal flotation devices do not satisfy this
(2) In the case of a personal watercraft equipped by the
manufacturer with a lanyard-type engine cut-off switch,
the lanyard is securely attached to the person, clothing,
or flotation device of the operator at all times while the
personal watercraft is being operated in such a manner to
turn off the engine if the operator dismounts while the
watercraft is in operation.
(d1) No person shall operate a personal watercraft towing
another person on water skis or other devices unless:
(1) The personal watercraft has on board, in addition to
the operator, an observer who shall monitor the progress
of the person or persons being towed, or the personal watercraft
is equipped with a rearview mirror; and
(2) The total number of persons operating, observing, and
being towed does not exceed the number of passengers identified
by the manufacturer as the maximum safe load for the vessel.
(e) A personal watercraft must at all times be operated
in a reasonable and prudent manner. Maneuvers that endanger
life, limb, or property shall constitute reckless operation
of a vessel as provided in G.S. 75A-10, and include:
(1) Unreasonably or unnecessarily weaving through congested
(2) Jumping the wake of another vessel within 100 feet
of such other vessel or when visibility around such other
vessel is obstructed;
(3) Intentionally approaching another vessel in order to
swerve at the last possible moment to avoid collision;
(4) Repealed by Session Laws 2000-52, s. 2, effective June
(5) Operating contrary to the "rules of the road"
or following too closely to another vessel, including another
personal watercraft. For purposes of this subdivision, "following
too closely" means proceeding in the same direction
and operating at a speed in excess of 10 miles per hour
when approaching within 100 feet to the rear or 50 feet
to the side of another vessel that is underway unless that
vessel is operating in a narrow channel, in which case a
personal watercraft may operate at the speed and flow of
other vessel traffic.
(f) The provisions of this section do not apply to a performer
engaged in a professional exhibition, a person or persons
engaged in an activity authorized under G.S. 75A-14, or
a person attempting to rescue another person who is in danger
of losing life or limb.
(f1) For purposes of this section, "narrow channel"
means a segment of the waters of the State 300 feet or less
(g) Repealed by Session Laws 1999-447, s. 1, effective
December 1, 1999.
(h) Nothing in this section prohibits units of local government,
marine commissions, or local lake authorities from regulating
personal watercraft pursuant to the provisions of G.S. 160A-176.2
or any other law authorizing such regulation, provided that
the regulations are more restrictive than the provisions
of this section or regulate aspects of personal watercraft
operation that are not covered by this section. Whenever
a unit of local government, marine commission, or local
lake authority regulates personal watercraft pursuant to
this subsection, it shall conspicuously post signs that
are reasonably calculated to provide notice to personal
watercraft users of the stricter regulations. (1997-129,
s. 1; 1999-447, s. 1; 2000-52, ss. 1-4; 2005-161, s. 1.)
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