PA 15-25—sSB 699

Environment Committee

Judiciary Committee

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 act requires, with limited exceptions, a person operating a vessel that must be registered or numbered under state law while towing someone engaged in water skiing to:

1. be at least age 16;

2. hold a (a) valid U. S. Coast Guard-issued vessel operator license, (b) Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)-issued safe boating certificate (SBC) or certificate of personal watercraft operation (CPWO), or (c) boating safety certificate from a state with a reciprocal agreement with Connecticut; and

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

The act also prohibits a vessel owner from knowingly allowing someone under age 16 to operate that vessel while towing someone engaged in water skiing.

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

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

The act requires the DEEP commissioner to amend 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 safe water skiing and (2) provide procedures for DEEP to issue and revoke safe water skiing endorsements. DEEP must include safe water skiing questions in the safe boating certificate examination. (PA 15–5, June Special Session, 412, allows the commissioner to include in the amended regulations provisions establishing a fee for a safe water skiing endorsement and an alternative online course for the endorsement. )

The act also requires the commissioner to publish on DEEP's website safe water skiing information equivalent to what is included in the safe boating courses.

The act also makes conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015, except for the provisions requiring the commissioner to amend the safe boating regulations and publish information on DEEP's website, which are effective upon passage.

BACKGROUND

Water Skiing

By law, water skiing includes aquaplaning, towing anyone behind a vessel under power, and similar forms of activity (CGS 15-127). Under the law, no one may:

1. operate a motorboat engaged in water skiing unless there is a responsible person at least age 12 on board assisting the operator and observing the water skier's progress,

2. water ski or operate a motorboat engaged in water skiing (a) anywhere water skiing is prohibited or (b) in a way that strikes or threatens to strike another person or vessel, or

3. water ski (a) from one-half hour after sunset to sunrise or (b) when weather conditions limit visibility to less than 100 yards (CGS 15-134).

OLR Tracking: JKL; JO; MS; BS