OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 699

AN ACT ESTABLISHING A MINIMUM AGE FOR TOWING ANY PERSON BY VESSEL AND REQUIRING THE COMPLETION OF SAFE TOWING INSTRUCTION PRIOR TO THE ISSUANCE OF A SAFE BOATING CERTIFICATE.

SUMMARY:

This bill requires, with limited exceptions, a person who tows another person by line while operating a vessel, to:

1. be at least age 16,

2. hold a valid U.S. Coast Guard-issued vessel operator license or Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)-issued safe boating certificate, and

3. hold a DEEP-issued safe towing endorsement obtained after completing safe towing instruction.

The bill also prohibits a vessel owner from knowingly allowing someone under age 16 to operate the vessel while towing another person by line.

Violators of the above requirements are subject to a fine of between $60 and $250 for each violation.

The above requirements do not apply during an emergency that threatens human life or property. The safe towing endorsement requirement also does not apply to anyone who held a valid vessel operator license or safe boating certificate before October 1, 2015.

The bill requires the DEEP commissioner to amend, by October 1, 2015, regulations that set out the content of safe boating operation courses. The revised regulations must (1) require the safe boating courses to include content on the safe operation of a vessel while towing a person by line and (2) provide procedures for DEEP to issue and revoke safe towing endorsements. DEEP must include safe towing questions in the safe boating certificate examination.

The bill also requires the commissioner to publish on DEEP's website safe towing instruction equivalent to what is included in the safe boating certificate courses. This online instruction is intended for the benefit of anyone who held a valid vessel operator license or safe boating certificate before October 1, 2015.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015, except for the provision requiring the DEEP commissioner to amend the safe boating regulations, which is effective upon passage.

BACKGROUND

Minimum Age Requirements for Operating Motorboats

By law, a person must be at least age 12 to operate a motorboat with more than 10 horsepower (HP), unless the person is accompanied on board by someone who is at least age 18 and holds a safe boating certificate.

Table 1 describes whether a Connecticut resident is allowed under state law to operate a motorboat based on age and whether he or she has obtained a safe boating certificate (i.e., certified or uncertified).

Table 1: Motorboat Operating Privileges in Connecticut

 

Motorboats 10 HP and Under

Motorboats Over 10 HP

Under age 12, uncertified

Only with onboard certified adult supervisor

Only with onboard certified adult supervisor

Age 12 to 15, uncertified

Only with onboard certified adult supervisor

Only with onboard certified adult supervisor

Age 16 and over, uncertified

No

No

Under age 12, certified

Yes

Only with onboard certified adult supervisor

Age 12 and over, certified

Yes

Yes

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

27

Nay

1

(03/20/2015)