West Virginia Cracks Down on Young Boaters Who Skip Safety Training

April 14, 2008

Young West Virginia boaters who avoid mandatory safety training are being targeted by the Division of Natural Resources.

A 2001 state law requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1986, to have at least seven hours of training and carry a boater safety certificate when operating a boat or personal watercraft. Violators face fines ranging from $20 to $300, plus court costs.

DNR officers often issued warnings in previous years but plan to come down harder on violators this year, said Sgt. W.W. Brogan, a DNR conservation officer.

“It’s the same as driving up and down the road without a driver’s license,” Brogan said.

Personal watercraft operators often tell conservation officers they left their card in their car or at home, he said.

The crackdown stems from a high number of boating accidents, particularly involving boaters who have not taken the course, Brogan said.

The course is offered free of charge and boaters can contact their nearest DNR law enforcement section office or a local conservation officer.

“Unfortunately our law enforcement people say a lot of these classes are not well attended,” DNR spokesman Hoy Murphy said Saturday. “I don’t know a reason for that. Maybe we still haven’t gotten the word out that these boating classes are required now.”

Information from: The Register-Herald,

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