Louisiana ready to raise age requirement for PWC

WASHINGTON – A legislative proposal requiring personal watercraft operators to be at least 16 years of age to ride in Louisiana was unanimously passed in the state’s senate recently and will become law if signed by Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, according to a press release from the Personal Watercraft Industry Association yesterday.

The legislation, which the Personal Watercraft Industry Association strongly supported, will become effective Jan. 1, 2005 once it is signed.

“We believe an educated boater is a more responsible, courteous boater,” said
Christian Gullot, manager of State Affairs for the PWIA. “Requiring boating safety education for all personal watercraft operators is a good policy.”

Until Senate Bill 710 was passed, the minimum age requirement was 13 years. Those of legal operating age when the legislation is passed, but still not 16 years of age, will be grandfathered in by the new law, with certain conditions. They will be required to complete a boating safety education course and carry proof of completion when they ride, the PWIA said.

“This legislation will go a long way towards enhancing safety on Louisiana public waters,” said Representative Jack Smith, who led the fight for the bill in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

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