Boating Accident

Boating is a popular outdoor activity in and around South Carolina, thanks to our state’s abundance of waterways. If you plan on renting a boat or using a friend’s boat sometime this summer, you may wonder if you need a boat license.

Although a boat license is not required if you are over the age of 16 in South Carolina, operating a boat involves certain responsibilities and safety considerations for you and your passengers. Getting a license ensures you learn how to operate your boat properly and safely for you, your passengers, and others om the water.

Do I Need a Boater Education Card to Operate a Boat in South Carolina?

Anyone over the age of 16 can operate a boat in South Carolina without a boater education card. If you are under 16 and plan to operate a boat with a motor of 15 horsepower or more, then you are required to carry a South Carolina boater education card. You must carry your South Carolina boating license on your vessel and have it available for law enforcement officers if needed.

Additionally, for someone 15 years or younger to operate a boat, they need to be in the company of someone ‌18 years or older.

What Boat Training Courses are Offered in South Carolina?

South Carolina offers several boating courses. There are two types of main boating courses within the state of South Carolina that you should know if you plan on operating a boat:

  • In-person classes: The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) offers free, 6-hour boating courses. They provide testing for boating licenses at the end of these courses. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons also offer boating classes.
  • Online boat safety course: You can also take a state-approved online boating course, and upon passing the online test and paying a one-time fee, the state will mail you a boating safety certificate. The boat safety course aims to adequately prepare you for emergency situations on the water and give you a deeper look into safety precautions to take whenever you boat.

The SCDNR will also accept any online boating safety course approved by the National Association of Safe Boating Law Administrators.

Keep Safety in Mind for Boat Operation in South Carolina

Boat operators can easily prevent collisions if they fulfill three major responsibilities to keep passengers and boaters safe.

  • Practice safe operation

Make sure you fully understand how to operate the boat’s equipment and perform basic maintenance on it while you are out on the water. Ensure all passengers know what to do in the event of an emergency, such as putting on their personal flotation devices.

  • Keep a proper lookout

Always keep a proper lookout and comply with all navigational rules and regulations. This includes having a designated person to look for hidden dangers like shallow water along sand bars and watch out for submerged objects such as rocks or logs. The U.S. Coast Guard cited improper lookout as the third most common cause of boating accidents in 2021.

  • Maintain safe speeds

Scan the water and shoreline continually while underway, especially in certain South Carolina lakes where there may be speed restrictions based on your boat’s location in relation to other people or objects in the water. For example, boats cannot exceed idle speed within 50 feet of anchored boats, wharves, piers, docks, or people in the water in Lake Moultrie.

When operating within 100 yards of the Atlantic coast, vessels must not exceed idle speed. It’s important that you obey these boating laws because even slight increases in speed can lead to serious boating accidents, including collisions or swamping by large wakes.

Other boat operators who are not as safety-conscious can be held liable for injuries they cause when they speed or drive recklessly. If an accident occurs, you need to make sure you take the ‌proper steps toward filing for compensation for damage to the boat and for your injuries. This includes taking pictures of the scene, getting as much information from witnesses as possible, and contacting a lawyer immediately after the accident.

Contact Our South Carolina Boat Accident Lawyers

When you take a boating safety course, you ensure you can have both a fun and safe time with your passengers. However, boating accidents can have devastating repercussions and can instantly change your life forever.

If you or someone you know sustained injuries in a boat accident, contact one of the South Carolina boating accident lawyers at the Joye Law Firm as soon as possible for a free case evaluation. Our skilled boating accident attorneys have over 150+ years of successful combined experience representing injured victims and their families in South Carolina. Rest assured that we will fight to protect your rights and help you win the maximum financial compensation you need and deserve.

About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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