Missouri Boating Safety and Laws

Here are a few of the more important Missouri Boating Laws. Please be sure to visit the Missouri State Highway Patrol - Water Patrol Division website for complete Missouri Boating Laws and information on boating safety courses.

By Law - Beginning January 1, 2005, every person born after January 1, 1984, who operates a vessel on Missouri lakes shall possess, on the vessel, a boating safety identification card issued by the Missouri State Water Patrol along with a valid photo I.D. View the complete Missouri State Boating Law Statute

Basic Missouri Boating Laws

  • Operating a boat while intoxicated is a criminal offense subject to a fine and/or time in jail.
  • The minimum age for operating any watercraft in the State Of Missouri is 14 years.
  • Children under the age of 7 years must WEAR a personal flotation Device (PDF) at all times unless confined in a fully enclosed area.
  • All persons born after January 1, 1984 must possess a Missouri boating safety ID card, along with a photo ID to operate a boat or PWC.
  • Riding on the bow, gunwales, railing, top of seat, back and decking over the back of a motorboat is prohibited.
  • It is illegal to operate a boat/PWC at speeds greater than “idle speed” with in 100 feet of a: dock, occupied, anchored vessel, buoyed area.
  • The speed limit at night is 30mph. Night time speed limits begin ½ hour after sunset and continue through 1 hour before sunrise.
  • Everyone on board a PWC while underway must WEAR a U.S. Coats Guard- approved personal flotation device (PFD).

IT IS ILLEGAL for PWC operators to:

  • Weave the PWC through congested waterway traffic.
  • Jump the wake of another motorboat when visibility is obstructed.
  • Become airborne while crossing the wave of another motorboat and within 100 feet of the motorboat creating that wake.
  • Operate at greater than “slow, no wake” speed within 50 feet of any other vessel, PWC, or person in the water.
  • Operate in a manner that requires swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision.

Designate A Captain Campaign

In an effort to promote water safety and to reduce boating while intoxicated or under the influence incidents, the Designate a Captain Program was established. 

A similar program to the designated driver program on land, the Designate a Captain Program gives restaurants the opportunity to promote water safety in their establishments and to give back to those safe and sober captains.

At participating waterfront restaurants captains can receive a kit containing a key chain and participating business brochure.  Designated captains present key chains at participating businesses for free soda during their visit. 

Participating businesses receive a free listing in the brochure and placement on the map.  In addition, a link will be established online at lakeoftheozarkswatersafetycouncil.com to participating businesses’ websites at no charge.

If you are interested in participating or have any questions go to the “contact us” section of the website: safelake.org or call 573-346-2227.

Help us keep the lake safe and fun for everyone.