La. Legislature Passes PWC Age Requirement

July 7, 2004

Personal watercraft operators will soon be required to be at least 16 years of age if they intend to ride in the state of Louisiana.

A legislative proposal sponsored by Sen. Noble Ellington was
unanimously passed in the State Senate on June 16th after it carried a favorable 82-12 vote in the State House on June 14th. The legislation has now been sent to the Governor for Executive approval. Once approved, it will become effective Jan. 1, 2005.

“We applaud Senator Noble Ellington and Representative Jack Smith for their leadership to drive this legislation to fruition,” said Christian
Gullot, manager of State Affairs for the Personal Watercraft Industry
Association (PWIA), which strongly advocated for the proposal’s passage.

“While they might be smaller than other boats, personal watercraft are
nonetheless motorized vessels and should be afforded the same precautions as larger boats,” stated Ellington.

Until Senate Bill 710 was passed, the minimum age requirement was 13 years. Those individuals who were of legal operating age by the time this legislation was passed but still not 16 years of age will be grand fathered in by the new law with certain conditions. They will be required to complete a boating safety education course and carry proof of completion when they ride.

“This legislation will go a long way towards enhancing safety on Louisiana public waters,” said Representative Jack Smith, who led the fight for the bill in the House of Representatives.

“We believe an educated boater is a more responsible, courteous boater,” added Gullott. “Requiring boating safety education for all personal watercraft operators is a good policy. The personal watercraft industry is pleased that Senator Ellington’s legislation requires those operators protected by the grand father clause to be required to take a safety course,” he continued.

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