Beginning next year, California residents 20 years old and younger will need to have a California Boater Card while operating a motorized vessel in the state’s waterways, including Lake Havasu.
The cards are issued when a boater passes a California state boater safety education exam.
In preparation for the change, law enforcement agencies patrolling Lake Havasu and the Colorado River are taking the time to inform California boaters of the change.
“We actually give them a book that’s put out by California’s Division of Boating and Waterways, that way they can educate themselves on the topic and learn about how they can take the safety course,” said Cpl. Jeffrey Cross of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Marine Enforcement Unit.
The law will not apply to Arizona residents boating in California waterways, Cross said. So the department’s “plan of attack” is to determine where each boater resides to ensure proper enforcement.
He explained that the law’s age requirement will increase each year so that by 2025 all Californians will be required to have a valid boater card, which is, “good for life, can’t be revoked and doesn’t expire,” he said.
According to Sgt. Kyler Cox, a Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Waterways deputy, since the law is not an Arizona law, Arizona’s law enforcement agencies are not able to enforce it. However, he added, they could call for assistance if they come across a California boater operating in California waterways without a boater card.
“I’m not saying that it would [happen] but it’s definitely a possibility,” he said. “We would like to get together in-house with our fellow agencies…to get an exact run down of how they’re going to enforce it, that way were on the same page and, if people have questions, we can give them the right answers.”
Arizona Game and Fish Department Boating Law Administrator Tim Baumgarten said, since California has “taken that big step” toward safer boating practices, Arizona could have some success in a program of its own.
“In past years, we knew that if 100 percent of Arizona boaters had taken a boating safety class, we would still not be successful because that would only be 60 percent of the boating population because 40 percent of the population was from California,” he said. “I think if Arizona is really going to be serious about boating safety and recreational safety…then educating the public is key and how we do that still remains to be seen.”
He added that Arizona is one of four states with no boating safety requirements.
- By CHELSEA CURTIS TODAY’S NEWS-HERALD, August 26, 2017