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Hawaii Boating Regulation Q&A


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Q&A document from State of Hawaii • Department of Land and Natural Resources relating to new regulation requiring boater education course for boat operators

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Hawaii Boating Regulation Q&A

  1. 1. DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCESBOATING AND OCEAN RECREATION DIVISIONMANDATORY BOATING SAFETY EDUCATION Q&ABeginning 11/10/2014, all individuals who operate a motorized vessel in Hawaiis Statewaters must have taken a boating safety course and show proof of certification.Q. Why does DLNR believe the mandatory education rule is necessary?A. A study released in 2007 by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators(NASBLA) showed that states with the longest history of mandatory education had the lowestboating fatality rates. For most of the boating safety community, this study was conclusiveevidence that mandatory boating education saves lives. Statistics are provided in the NASBLApress release entitled “Boating Education Requirements Do Make a Difference.” The study alsoindicated that the longer boating education requirements are in place, the lower the fatality ratesbecome. The states with no boating education requirements in place have the highest averagefatality rates. The states that have had boating education requirements in place for more than 20years have an average fatality rate of 3.89 persons per 100,000 registered boats. Hawaii ismentioned in the study as a state that has some form of mandatory education (for all thrill craftoperators only) with a fatality rate of 10.46 per 100,000 recreational vessels. Hawaii ranked fifthon the list of highest fatality rates in the year the study was finalized. In 2011, Hawaii had afatality rate of 44 per 100,000 vessels, second worse in the nation. The Department’s goal inestablishing this new rule is to improve on-the-water safety for all ocean users. The proposedmandatory education requirement for boating on State waters is very similar in nature and intentto the licensing of drivers wishing to operate a motor vehicle on our city streets and highways.Although the perception is that the ocean is a very big area, there are many times and manywaterways where boats come in close proximity to other vessels, the shoreline, swimmers,divers, etc. and every operator should know the established rules of the road to avoid causinginjury or death.Q. How soon will the rule be enforced?A. The Governor signed the new administrative rule on October 30, 2012. It became effective onNovember 10, 2012. Enforcement of the new rule will begin on the second anniversary of therule’s effective date, on November 10, 2014. After that date in 2014, boaters will be required toshow proof of certification to enforcement officers.Q. Who does this rule apply to?A. The rule applies to all boaters unless they and/or the vessels being used fall under one of theexemptions mentioned in the new rule (see “Who is exempt” below). Anyone who is capable ofsuccessfully completing a NASBLA and State approved boating safety course may operate a
  2. 2. vessel. However, operators under 16 years of age (in addition to having the required certificateof completion) must be directly supervised by an adult 21 years of age or older who also holdsthe required certificate of completion.Q. What types of vessels does the rule apply to?A. Any power driven vessel propelled by a motor greater than 10 horsepower, even vesselspropelled primarily by wind/sail that are equipped with an auxiliary engine.Q. Where is it applicable?A. All navigable State waters from the high water mark on shore to three miles at sea.Q. Who is exempt?A. The rule provides an exemption for individuals who: 1) possess a valid merchant marinercredential issued by the United States Coast Guard, (2) operate a thrill craft in a commercialthrill craft zone as authorized by the State, 3) operate a vessel powered by a motor rated at 10horsepower or less, 4) are on a voyage originating out of State and will remain in the State lessthan 60 calendar days, or 5) received a safety briefing approved by the State and are operating arented vessel. As of this writing, the rule does not provide exemptions for ocean safetypersonnel, federal/state/county personnel, lifeguards, marine enforcement, researchers, etc.Q. How will it be enforced?A. “§13-244-15.5 Operation of power driven vessels. (d) A person who is operating a powerdriven vessel on any waters of the State and who is stopped by a law enforcement officer shallpresent to the officer, upon request, a certificate of completion required by this rule or acceptableevidence of exemption from the required certificate. Failure to present a certificate of completionor acceptable evidence of exemption shall constitute a violation of this rule, unless the personpresents the required certificate or evidence of exemption to a court of law and satisfies the courtthat this person held a proper certificate or was exempt at the time the person was asked toproduce the certificate. (e) A person who alters, forges, counterfeits or falsifies a certificate orother document used as evidence, or who possesses a certificate or other document that has beenaltered, forged, counterfeited or falsified, or who loans or permits that person’s certificate orother document to be used by another person, shall be in violation of this rule.Q. What is the penalty for a violation of this requirement?A. Any person violating this rule shall be fined not less than $50 and not more than $1000 orsentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than thirty days, or both, for each violation; the
  3. 3. court may also prevent an individual from operating a vessel in State waters of the State for up to30 days.Q. What are the compliance requirements for an acceptable course?A. Acceptable courses must be NASBLA and State of Hawaii approved.Q. Does the Windward Community College thrill craft certification class qualify as anacceptable course?A. No. The WCC thrill craft operator’s class is not NASBLA approved. If a graduate of the classhas taken no other boating safety class that meets the compliance criteria, he/she will need to doso before enforcement of the rule begins in 2014.Q. What Internet courses are or will be available?A. DOBOR is fostering a proliferation of courses so that Hawaii residents have an abundance ofchoices for acquiring a boating certificate of completion. Choices will include Internet-based,home study and classroom courses. One fully compliant class already available via the Internetthrough is free. At completion of the course, the student can print acertificate of completion that will be acceptable for compliance. If unable to print the certificate, will send a copy of your certificate to you for $5.00. Certification is also available but there is a fee associated with this course.Another online course through is nearing completion. The course will costapproximately $50. Finalizing the course and publishing it on-line will alsoresult in producing a companion manual available for each student to retain (followingcompletion of the course) for future reference.Q. Will there be an independent or home-study course available?A. The companion manual can also be used as a home study course that can becompleted with a proctored test arranged with DOBOR staff. DOBOR will pursue developmentof another home study course developed by Outdoor Empire Publishing. DOBOR will bescheduling proctored tests for students and issuing certificates of completion for this course aswell.Q. What about classroom courses or a course that I have taken previously?
  4. 4. A. DOBOR will make use of classroom courses that are approved by the National Association ofBoating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and are already servicing Hawaii residents. Two basicboating courses exist. US Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCG Aux) offers one course throughout theislands. The US Power Squadrons (USPS) offers the other course only on Oahu. These twoexisting courses will be modified for Hawaii residents to include “state specific information” andbecome compliant with the proposed mandatory education rule.Approximately 85% of every NASBLA approved State boating safety course must contain thesame content and meet the same presentation standards dictated by NASBLA. The content forthe remaining 15% of a NASBLA approved State boating course is set by the regulating State.Each State has its own rules and regulations regarding vessel registration, prohibitions, carriagerequirements, exemptions, enforcement, etc. This collection of rules particular to this State iswhat is known as the “state specific information.” Incorporating the state specific informationinto the NASBLA approved course offered by the USCG Aux and the USPS creates a hybridcourse tailored for use by that specific state.DOBOR has completed development of the “module” of State specific rules for distribution toall NASBLA approved courses for Hawaii. The course providers will incorporate the moduleinto their existing courses as soon as able and submit it for approval by the State. Anyone whohas already passed a USCG Aux or USPS course prior to incorporation of the State specificcontent will be able to take an abbreviated course just on the materials in the module. Thisshould greatly reduce the cost of the course and the time vessel operators must spend in theclassroom to comply with the new rule.If a boater has taken a NASBLA approved course anywhere else, an abbreviated (approx. half-day) course will be available through the USCG Aux, the Power Squadron and other certifiedproviders to cover the rules and regulations specific to Hawaii so the boater will be compliant.Last updated 4/25/13