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      RS 34:851.4     


§851.4.  Careless operation of a watercraft

A.  Careless operation of a watercraft is the operation of a watercraft in a careless manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person, when such operation constitutes a violation of any of the following requirements:

(1)  Vessels passing head-on shall each keep to their respective right.

(2)  A vessel overtaking another vessel may do so on either side, but must grant the right-of-way to the vessel being overtaken.

(3)  When vessels are on paths that cross, the vessel on the left will yield right-of-way to vessel on the right.

(4)  Motorboats shall yield right-of-way to non-motor powered boats, except when being overtaken by non-powered vessels, for deep draft vessels that have to remain in narrow channels, or when vessel is towing another vessel.

(5)  Motorboats must maintain a direct course when passing sailboats.

(6)  A vessel approaching a landing dock or pier shall yield the right-of-way to any departing vessel.

(7)  A vessel departing shoreline or tributary shall yield right-of-way to through traffic and vessels approaching shoreline or tributary.

(8)  Vessels will not abruptly change course without first determining that it can be safely done without risk of collision with another vessel.

(9)  If an operator fails to fully comprehend the course of an approaching vessel he must slow down immediately to a speed barely sufficient for steerageway until the other vessel has passed.

(10)  Vessels yielding right-of-way shall reduce speed, stop, reverse, or alter course to avoid collision.  Vessel with right-of-way shall hold course and speed.  If there is danger of collision, all vessels will slow down, stop, or reverse until danger is averted.

(11)  Vessels will issue warning signals in fog or weather conditions that restrict visibility.

(12)  No mechanically propelled vessel shall be operated so as to traverse a course around any other vessel underway or any person swimming.

(13)  In a narrow channel, vessels will keep to the right of mid-channel.

(14)  Vessels approaching or passing another vessel shall be operated in such manner and at such a rate of speed as will not create a hazardous wash or wake.

(15)  A seaplane on the water shall in general keep clear of all vessels and avoid impeding the navigation of all vessels.

(16)  All vessels shall be operated at reasonable speeds for given conditions and situations and must be under the complete control of the operator at all times.

(17)  No person shall, under any circumstances, operate a vessel in excess of an established speed or wake zone.

(18)  No vessel or person shall obstruct or block a navigation channel, entrance to channel, mooring slip, landing dock, launching ramp, pier, or tributary.

(19)  Vessels shall keep at least 100 feet clearance of displayed diver's flag.

(20)  Operator shall maintain a proper lookout.

B.  Whoever commits the crime of careless operation of a watercraft shall be fined not more than three hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days, or both.

C.  The provisions of this Section shall not apply to vessels engaged in commercial activity.

Acts 1960, No. 43, §4.  Amended by Acts 1977, No. 27, §1; Acts 1978, No. 744, §1; Acts 1982, No. 444, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1983; Acts 1983, No. 382, §1, eff. July 1, 1984; Acts 1984, No. 288, §1; Acts 2011, No. 264, §2.

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