Stay Safe this Summer: Guide to Nevada’s Boating Laws

Though Nevada may be land-locked, there are still plenty of natural and artificial bodies of water. Lots of residents enjoy escaping the heat for a bit in their boats! While it’s a fun activity, it’s critical to both know and follow boating laws established by Nevada. As Las Vegas personal injury lawyers would attest, this knowledge can be the difference between losing your freedom and money and retaining them! Here’s what you need to know before you hit the docks this summer.


Just as if you were driving a car, you’ll need a license. Known as a “Nevada Boater Education Card,” this is granted to anyone who passes an approved boater safety course. Technically, this is legally necessary if the boat’s engine is at least 15 horsepower, and the person driving was born after December 31, 1982. Even if you don’t meet one or both of those criteria, it would still behoove you to get the training behind the license.

Life Jackets

It’s required to have no less than one Coast Guard-approved life jacket per person on the boat with you at all times. In addition, you’ll need a throwable raft equipped if your boat is 16 feet or longer. Remember, if someone falls overboard and you weren’t prepared, as many Las Vegas injury lawyers have seen, the chances are that you’ll be held liable.

While it’s always a great idea to wear a life jacket, adults in Nevada are not required to. Only children under the age of 14 are required to wear a jacket unless they’re in a completely enclosed region of the boat where there’s no possibility they could fall off.


One thing that many people associate with boating is drinking. While it’s fine for passengers onboard to imbibe, the boat operator has to take extra precautions. The chances are that you’ve heard of DUI and know that your BAC limit (assuming you’re at least 21) is .08.

Nevada also has a “Boating Under the Influence” law with the same BAC cap of .08. For those under 21 who are operating a boat, unlike with DUI laws, BUI laws stipulate the same cap of .08. Remember, that doesn’t mean that your BAC should be anything besides 0.00 if you’re not 21 yet.

The penalty for BUI is the same as that for DUI without the driver’s license and insurance repercussions. That means it’s a misdemeanor with the possibility of up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 upon your first conviction in addition to any court costs imposed.

Boating Accidents

Unfortunately, boating accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. Many boaters out there aren’t terribly experienced. Especially on holidays, many boaters are (illegally) intoxicated, as well. The chances are that any personal injury attorney in Las Vegas has had a client harmed by someone boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The general rules to follow regarding accidents you may have while boating mirror the rules to follow if you have a car accident for the most part. However, the reporting requirements are a bit different. Remember, all reports must be sent to the Nevada Department of Wildlife, whose website is here.

Serious incidents must legally be reported within 48 hours of the occurrence. This means that an accident leads to anyone on either boat involved being knocked out, killed, or requiring significant medical treatment beyond what a first aid kit can provide. The only other time when you’d need to send a report within 48 hours is if there is combined damage to property that’s greater than $2,000. Las Vegas injury lawyers would likely advise you to follow this guidance since not doing so could be construed as negligence to a judge.

For other types of accidents, such as collisions resulting in minor damages or that cause a small cut, the only reporting requirement is that you inform the Nevada Department of Wildlife within ten days of the incident.

Parting Wisdom

Though it’s essential to know these facts and put this knowledge to use when you head out to the boat this summer, you don’t need to stress it. As long as you operate your boat in a careful manner, you’ll likely be fine. However, if there is an incident that requires reporting, you could benefit from contacting an attorney experienced in the field! The Schnitzer Law Firm is a team of Las Vegas personal injury lawyers who will fight to ensure you get the compensation you’re owed if you’re the victim of a negligent boat operator. Contact the firm today to review your case via email at, call it at 702-960-4050, or just fill this form out!