South Carolina has a new boating law that requires boaters born on or after July 1, 2007, to pass a boating safety course and get a boating safety certificate before operating a boat in the state. 

SC was one of only four states that do not have a boating safety requirement, a fact that has changed as of June 19, 2023, when the governor signed SC’s new boating law. The law goes into effect on August 18, 2023. 

Below, we will cover the basics of SC’s new boating law, including:

  • The new law’s boating safety certificate requirement,
  • Where you can get a boating safety certificate, and
  • The penalties for non-compliance with SC’s new boating law. 

What is SC’s New Boating Law?

The new boating law requires operators to complete a boating safety class and receive a boating safety certificate before operating a watercraft powered by a ten-horsepower or greater engine. 

Section 50-21-95 will be added to the SC Code of Laws, making it unlawful to operate “a vessel powered by an engine of ten horsepower or greater or equivalent to ten horsepower or greater, a personal watercraft, or a specialty propcraft unless the person:”

  • Was born before July 1, 2007, 
  • Has a SC boating safety certificate, 
  • Has a license issued by the US Coast Guard in the person’s name (even if the license is expired), 
  • Has a merchant marine credential issued by the US Coast Guard in the person’s name (even if the credential is expired), 
  • Is a non-resident with a boating safety certificate issued by another state,
  • Has a “valid boat rental safety certificate issued in the person’s name” and “is operating a vessel, personal watercraft, or specialty propcraft from a business engaged in the renting of vessels, personal watercrafts, or specialty propcrafts,” or
  • Is accompanied by a person at least 18 years old who meets the above criteria. 

How Do You Get a SC Boating Safety Certificate? 

Where do you get a SC boating safety certificate? 

The SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) must issue a boating safety certificate in both physical and electronic form to a person who:

  1. Successfully completes a boating safety education course administered or approved by the SCDNR, 
  2. Provides proof that they were issued a boating safety certificate or the equivalent by another state, or
  3. Provides proof that they were issued a license or merchant marine credential by the US Coast Guard. 

There are several ways to complete the training requirement to receive a boating safety certificate, including:

What are the Penalties for Not Complying with SC’s New Boating Law? 

Failure to comply with the new boating law carries a fine of no less than $50 and as much as $300, but there are no additional court costs, surcharges, or assessments, and the violation is not criminal. 

The new boating law says, “A custodial arrest for a violation of this section must not be made, except upon a warrant issued for failure to appear in court when summoned or for failure to pay an imposed fine. A violation of this section does not constitute a criminal offense and must not be included in the records maintained by the department or in the records maintained by SLED.”

Boating Accidents in Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Conway SC

If you are involved in a boating accident in the Grand Strand Area caused by another boat operator’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. 

Boat operators have a duty of care to not cause dangerous conditions when they are on the water, and the new boating safety certificate requirement will hopefully 1) reduce the number of boating accidents, injuries, and deaths, and 2) help to establish liability when a reckless or negligent boater takes to the water in violation of SC’s new boating law. 

Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to recover damages from:

  • The negligent operator of the other boat or watercraft,
  • The owner of the other boat or the individual who negligently entrusted the watercraft to the reckless operator, 
  • Your own insurance policies, 
  • A rental company, or
  • Any individual or company that negligently created the conditions that resulted in your injuries. 

Boating Accidents Caused by Drunk Operators

As with a DUI accident in a motor vehicle, there is no cap on punitive damages if the negligent operator of a watercraft was:

  • Drunk, 
  • Intoxicated on drugs, or
  • Convicted of a felony related to the boating accident. 

In some cases, a drunk-boating victim may also have a “dram shop” action against the bar, marina, restaurant, or other establishments that served an intoxicated watercraft operator. 

Myrtle Beach Boating Accident Lawyers

If you have been injured in a boating accident in South Carolina, your personal injury lawyer at Coastal Law will help you determine who was at fault, what sources of recovery are available, and how to collect damages.

Call the SC boating accident attorneys at Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or contact us through our website to speak with an attorney today. 

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