HOUSE BILL NO. 272
AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1 AND SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 23 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO NAVIGATION AND WATERS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE (Two—thirds of all members elected to each House thereof concurring therein):
Section 1. Amend §2112, Chapter 21, Title 23 of the Delaware Code by re—designating present subsection (4) as new subsection (5), and by adding to said section the following new subsection:
"(4) 'Vessel' shall mean every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water or Ice. Jet skis, surf jets, ski craft and other personal watercraft are vessels for purposes of this Chapter."
Section 2. Amend Chapter 22, Title 23 of the Delaware Code by designating all of the present Chapter as new Subchapter I, which new Subchapter shall be entitled as follows:
"SUBCHAPTER I. PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES FOR CHILDREN"
Section 3. Amend Chapter 22, Title 23 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new Subchapter, designated as Subchapter II, which new Subchapter shall read as follows:
"SUBCHAPTER II. PERSONAL WATERCRAFT §2211. Definitions.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this Subchapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
(a) 'Approved personal flotation device' shall mean any United States Coast Guard approved type I, II, III or V personal flotation device.
(b) 'Personal watercraft' shall mean any Class A in—board vessel (less than sixteen feet in length) as defined by the United States Coast Guard which uses either an internal combustion engine powering a water jet—pump or a propeller as its primary source of propulsion and which is designed to be operated either by a person or persons sitting, standing or kneeling on the vessel, or by a water skier via remote control, instead of in the conventional manner of vessel operation, such as riding in the vessel.
(c) 'Headway Speed' shall mean the minimum speed necessary to maintain steerage and control of a personal watercraft while such personal watercraft is moving.
§2212. Restrictions and Regulations Relating to the Operation of Personal Watercraft.
(a) No person shall operate a personal watercraft unless such person is sixteen years of age or older, except that a person between fourteen and sixteen years of age may operate a personal watercraft if such operation occurs under the direct supervision of said person's parent or legal guardian.
(b) No person shall operate a personal watercraft at any time in the evening from one—half hour after sunset to one—half hour before sunrise unless the personal watercraft is equipped with navigation lights.
(c) No person shall operate or ride in a personal watercraft unless such person is wearing an approved personal flotation device.
(d) No person shall operate a personal watercraft unless the personal watercraft is equipped with a self-circling device or a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch. If the personal watercraft is equipped with a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch, no person shall operate such personal watercraft unless the lanyard is attached to the person, clothing or personal flotation device of the operator of such personal watercraft.
(e) No person shall remove, alter, or tamper with any part of the spring-loaded throttle mechanism on a personal watercraft which immediately returns the engine to an idle speed upon release of the operator's hand from the throttle control, or any feature of an engine cut-off switch on a personal watercraft, which is installed by a manufacturer.
(f) A personal watercraft shall at all times be operated in a reasonable and prudent manner. Maneuvers which unreasonably or imprudently endanger life, limb or property shall constitute reckless operation of the personal watercraft. Maneuvers which unreasonably or unnecessarily endanger life, limb or property shall include but are not limited to:
(1) weaving through congested vessel traffic;
(2) jumping or attempting to jump the wake of another vessel within 100 feet of such other vessel, or when visibility around such other vessel is obstructed;
(1) following within 100 feet of a water skier; or
(2) speeding in restricted speed areas.
(g) No person who is the owner of a personal watercraft or who has charge or control over a personal watercraft shall permit another person to operate such personal watercraft in violation of any provision of this Subchapter.
(h) No person shall operate a personal watercraft at any speed greater than headway speed while within or at the entrance to a marina or other place utilized as an anchorage.
(i) Within the Delaware waters of the Atlantic Ocean, no person shall operate a personal watercraft at any speed greater than headway speed unless such personal watercraft is at least 300 feet from all wharfs, piers, docks, boat launching areas, pilings, bridge structures or abutments, moored, drifting or anchored vessels, all non-motorized vessels, all people in the water, and any shoreline.
(j) No person shall operate a personal watercraft in an area where motorized vessels are prohibited.
(k) No person shall operate a personal watercraft to tow a water skier, aquaboard or other similar device unless the personal watercraft is designed to carry at least two people and unless an observer is on board the personal watercraft and facing toward the device being towed.
§2213. Rentals of Personal Watercraft.
(a) No person shall rent a personal watercraft to any person who does not hold a valid automobile driver's license.
(b) No person shall rent a personal watercraft to any person unless and until such personal watercraft is conspicuously marked with the word 'rental' and such other markings as are designated by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
(c) No person shall rent a personal watercraft to any person without explaining to the person the areas where the personal watercraft is and is not allowed to be operated.
(d) No person shall rent a personal watercraft to any person without providing, at the site where such personal watercraft is rented, a vessel equipped to render assistance, guidance and policing of rented personal watercraft.
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(e) No person shall rent a personal watercraft to any person without providing the following information to the person and obtaining from the person a written acknowledgment that the person has read and understands the following information:
(1) a printed map or chart of the area where the person is permitted to operate the personal watercraft;
(2) a booklet or manual relating to personal watercraft safety which is accepted or recognized by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control;
(1) a summary of the provisions of this Subchapter. §2214. Exceptions.
The restrictions and prohibitions of this Subchapter shall not apply to law enforcement vessels operated by law enforcement personnel in the performance of their duties, nor shall the provisions of this Subchapter shall apply to any person engaged in a professional exhibition or participating in a regatta, race, marine parade, tournament or exhibition held in compliance with §2120 of this Title.
§2215. Enforcement; Penalties.
(a) The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control shall be the State agency authorized to promulgate such rules and regulations as are necessary for the safe and proper administration of this Subchapter.
(b) The State, each county within this State, and each municipality within this State shall have concurrent authority to enforce, each within its respective jurisdiction, the provisions of this Subchapter. All fines and penalties collected by a county or municipality as a result of the efforts of that county or municipality to enforce the provisions of this Subchapter shall be paid to such county or municipality.
(c) Any person who operates a personal watercraft in violation of any of the provisions of this Subchapter shall be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor."
Section 4. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is hereby authorized and directed to establish, subject to any necessary appropriations, an educational safety program for the operation of jet skis, surf skis, ski craft and other personal watercraft. Each person under eighteen years of age who operates such watercraft shall be required to participate in any safety program established by the Department. The Secretary of the Department or his designee shall establish the program criteria and content, and shall determine the minimum safety skills that are necessary for minors to operate personal watercraft.
Approved July 18, 1991.