Who Can Operate a Boat

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There are three categories of people who can operate a boat in Georgia: those less than 12 years of age, those 12 through 15 years of age, and those 16 years or older.

Those less than 12 years of age

  • May not operate any vessel over 16 feet in length.
  • May legally operate a vessel under 16 feet in length which is either non-motorized or powered by a motor of 30 horsepower or less only if they are accompanied by a competent adult.

Those 12 through 15 years of age

  • May legally operate any vessel less than 16 feet in length, including a PWC only if they:
    - Have passed a boat education course approved by the Department of Natural Resources, OR
    - Are accompanied by a competent adult
  • May not legally operate any vessel over 16 feet in length.

Those 16 years of age or older

  • May operate any boat on the waters of Georgia if they have proper identification onboard
  • All operators born after January 1, 1998 must have passed a boater education course approved by the Department of Natural Resources and have card on board to operate any vessel.

"Competent Adult" means a person of age 18 or older who is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and who is carrying proper identification.

"Proper Identification" means a drivers license (or legible copy) or any other government issued identification that contains a description of the person, a photograph, and birth date.