Sara Story, NBCDFW
State law makes boater safety courses mandatory for more people.
Rules on the water will tighten up on September 1, and not just anyone will be allowed to drive a boat. A new state law will require mandatory boater safety education for more people.
Phil Smith owns Buxton Marine and deals with both brand new boaters and those more experienced on a daily basis.
"Can people just come in and buy a boat and go use it? Yes. Do they know anything about it? No," Smith said.
Right now, only 13 to 17 year olds are required to complete a boating safety course. Adults can navigate the waters on their own.
"I think I should have taken a class, because it was a disaster the first few times we went out. We had no idea what we were doing at all. Now, it scares me when I see people that haven't taken any classes either," boater Todd Ermenio said.
Ermenio is now making his 13-year-old daughter take the course, and a new state law will require more people to do the same. A boating safety certification will be required for anyone born on or after September 1, 1993.
Chief Steve Carter with the Lewisville Fire Department said It's like a driver's license for the lake. He said it may be difficult for law enforcement to pinpoint this change.
"I can tell you that they're not going to be pulling over every little boat to check for that one specific thing," Carter said.
However, law enforcement will hand out tickets to boaters who don't have a valid ID and documentation of having passed a boater education course.
"I'm sure even people like my age would benefit from taking the class right now," Ermenio said.
The state-approved boater education course is available as one-day classroom training, as a home-study course or as an online course at www.boat-ed.com. The course takes about six hours to complete. Costs range from $13 for classroom course to about $25 for the home-study course. Information about boater education, including class schedules, is available at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/boater_education/.