TITLE 23

Navigation and Waters

CHAPTER 22. BOATING SAFETY

Subchapter II. Personal Watercraft


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:

(1) "Approved personal flotation device" shall mean any United States Coast Guard approved type I, II, III or V personal flotation device.

(2) "Headway speed" shall mean the minimum speed necessary to maintain steerage and control of a personal watercraft while such personal watercraft is moving.

(3) "Personal watercraft" shall mean any class A in-board vessel (less than 16 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.

68 Del. Laws, c. 185, § 3.;

(a) No person shall operate a personal watercraft unless such person is 16 years of age or older, except that a person between 14 and 16 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 between sunset and sunrise and at times of restricted visibility 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 may endanger the safety of persons 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;

(3) Following within 100 feet of a water skier; or

(4) 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) Except for the waters of Delaware's Inland Bays contiguous to incorporated areas, on Delaware waters other than the Atlantic Ocean, no person shall operate a personal watercraft at any speed greater than headway speed unless said personal watercraft is at least 100 feet from all wharfs, piers, docks, boat launching areas, pilings, bridge structures or abutments, moored, drifting or anchored vessels, all nonmotorized vessels, and any shoreline, and at least 300 feet from all people in the water; provided however, that the provisions of this subsection shall not apply to the waters of the Nanticoke River.

(j) Within the waters of Delaware's Inland Bays contiguous to incorporated areas, no person shall operate a personal watercraft at any speed greater than headway speed unless said personal watercraft is at least 300 feet from all wharves, piers, docks, boat-launching areas, pilings, bridge structures or abutments, moored, drifting or anchored vessels, all nonmotorized vessels, any shoreline and all people in the water.

(k) 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 nonmotorized vessels, all people in the water and any shoreline.

(l ) No person shall operate a personal watercraft in an area where motorized vessels are prohibited.

(m) No person shall operate a personal watercraft to tow a water skier, aquaboard or other similar device unless there is in such vessel a competent observer, in addition to the operator, and the personal watercraft is designed by the manufacturer to carry the operator, the observer and the person or persons being towed. The observer shall be considered competent if the observer is facing toward the person or persons being towed.

68 Del. Laws, c. 185, § 3; 68 Del. Laws, c. 346, §§ 1, 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 268, §§ 1, 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 206, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 427, § 4; 72 Del. Laws, c. 358, §§ 1-3.;

(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. A printed map or chart of the area where the person is permitted to operate shall be provided by the person from whom the personal watercraft is rented.

(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.

(e) The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control shall prepare educational material setting forth excerpts from or a summary of the pertinent provisions of this subchapter and subchapter III of this chapter and information pertinent to personal watercraft safety. Any person who is in the business of renting personal watercraft shall be furnished this material without charge.

(f) No person who is in the business of renting personal watercraft shall rent a personal watercraft to any person without obtaining from such person a written acknowledgment that the educational material prepared by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control pursuant to subsection (e) of this section has been read and understood.

68 Del. Laws, c. 185, § 3; 72 Del. Laws, c. 358, §§ 4, 5.;

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 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.

68 Del. Laws, c. 185, § 3.;

(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) Whoever violates any of the provisions of this subchapter or any regulation promulgated thereunder, shall for the first offense be guilty of a class D environmental violation. For each subsequent like offense occurring within 12 months of a prior conviction, the person shall be guilty of a class C environmental violation.

(d) The Justice of the Peace Courts shall have jurisdiction over any violation of this subchapter.

68 Del. Laws, c. 185, § 3; 71 Del. Laws, c. 427, § 5; 79 Del. Laws, c. 421, § 15.;