What You Need to Know About New York State’s Boating Safety Law - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Aug 4, 2021

What You Need to Know About New York State’s Boating Safety Law

Learn All About Brianna’s Law and Whether or Not You Need A Boating License in New York State

With boating season upon us, many may be wondering about the New York State boating laws and whether or not you need an actual boating license to operate a personal recreational motorboat. It’s important to know that although New York State does not require a “license,” there is a boating law you should be aware of. Continue reading to learn more about Brianna’s Law before heading out on the water!


What Is Brianna’s Law?

Signed by Governor Cuomo during the summer of 2019, New York State passed a new law with the intention of helping people stay safe while out on the water. Effective January 1, 2020,“Brianna’s Law,” will require all operators of motorized boats to have completed boating safety courses by 2025, regardless of the operator’s age. The boat course must be approved by the Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Why Is the New York State Boating Safety Law Called “Brianna’s Law?”

Brianna’s Law is named after Brianna Lieneck, an 11-year-old girl who was fatally injured in a boating accident in 2005 when heading home from Fire Island with her family and family friend. Brianna’s tragic incident motivated the New York State legislature to reexamine  boating practices and make strides towards making our waterways safer.


Who Is Affected by Brianna’s Law?

Brianna’s Law will affect everyone who operates a motorized boat in New York State. While previous laws only required those born after 1996 to complete a boating safety course, Brianna’s Law indicates that age is irrelevant. If you plan to operate a motorized boat, you must complete a boating safety course according to their phase-in plan. This also includes canoes and small Jon Boats that have electric motors and are considered motorized crafts.


Under the 5-year phase-in, all motorboat operators born on or after January 1, 1993 must complete a safety course to operate a motorboat beginning in 2020.

Those born after January 1, 1988 must complete a safety course beginning in 2022. Those born on or after January 1, 1983 must complete a safety course beginning in 2023. Those born on or after January 1, 1978 must complete a safety course beginning in 2024.


The requirement would extend to all motorboat operators beginning in 2025, regardless of age. Failure to comply could result in a fine of between $100 and $250.


Where Can I Take a Boating Safety Course?

Boating safety courses are offered at various times and locations throughout the state. To find a time and location convenient for you, click here. New York State also offers the convenience of obtaining the certification online. Click here to view and complete the official online New York boating safety course.

Do I Need to Take a Boating Safety Course to Rent a Boat? 

There is an exception to Brianna’s Law and that is if you are at least 18 years old, you don’t need to complete a course before renting a boat. The marina should demonstrate how to properly use the boat before renting it. If you rent boats often, you would benefit from knowing the rules of the water and how to keep yourself, your passengers and those around you safe. If you’re under the age of 18 you will be required to have a safety certificate to rent a boat.


When Do I Need to Take a New York State Boating Safety Course By?

In accordance with Brianna’s Law, all motorized boat operators must have completed a New York State boating safety course by January 1, 2025 or sooner, depending on the year you were born. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to start developing good habits and get your boating safety certificate for the summer ahead! For more information on the deadlines for obtaining your boating safety certification, check out this link.


Protecting yourself and others also means ensuring that your motorized boat is properly insured. Click on the button below to find an agent and discuss coverage options for you and your boat.