With summer quickly approaching, we know that many Texans will be enjoying the wonderful outdoor opportunities that our state offers. Many of our Texas residents who live along the coastline or near one of our many other waterways have invested in a boat. The water provides a great way to relax or engage in sports during these long, hot months. The boaters in Texas will want to know that a potential new restriction to their water fun has proven unsuccessful in the State Senate, at least for this year.
Certain activities with the potential for deadly force, such as driving a car or carrying a gun, require a license in the state of Texas. Senator Jeff Wentworth, a Republican from San Antonio, wanted to mandate the same certification for those who operate a boat in our state. His legislation would have covered all powered watercraft that travel over 10mph. Anyone who wanted to take such a vessel into the water would have had to complete and pass a safety course from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and, as a result, obtain a “boater identification card.” Wentworth points to the 61 people who died in boating accidents last year as the motivation for his proposed bill.
There are only six states in our country that do not require any boating education requirements. And, a study three years ago by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators shows that those states with the longest history of such requirements have the lowest boating fatality rates. Such information has convinced Senator Wentworth that his efforts are worthwhile. During session today, he plans to propose a state study of the issue and perhaps reintroduce the licensing requirement in two years.
So, as it stands now, you are free to operate a boat in Texas without a license as long as you are eighteen years old. This does not mean that you are free from responsibility if an accident should occur while you are behind the wheel. If you made a poor decision while operating a water craft and criminal or civil charges have resulted, the criminal defense attorneys and personal injury lawyers at Bertolino LLP can help. Please contact our attorneys in the Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today and let’s discuss your case.

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