A N A C T
RELATING TO PERSONAL WATERCRAFT REGULATIONS
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 46-27-2 of the General Laws in Chapter 46-27 entitled "Personal Watercraft Safety Act" is hereby amended to read as follows:
46-27-2. Regulation of personal watercraft -- (a) A person may not operate a personal watercraft at any time between the hours from one-half (1/2) hour after sunset to one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise; provided, that police and fire department personnel on official duty may operate personal watercraft with proper equipment and lighting and are exempted from the provisions of this subsection.
(b) A personal watercraft must at all times be operated in a reasonable and prudent manner. Maneuvers which unreasonably or unnecessarily endanger life, limb, or property, including, but not limited to weaving through congested vessel traffic, or jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably, shall constitute reckless operation of a vessel and are prohibited.
(c) No person under the age of sixteen (16) shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of the state unless an adult accompanies him or her or unless he or she has passed a department of environmental management approved or United States Coast Guard approved safety course.
(d) It is unlawful for the owner of any personal watercraft or any person having charge over or control of a personal watercraft to authorize or knowingly permit the same to be operated by a person under sixteen (16) years of age in violation of this section unless the provisions of subsection (c) are met.
(e) A person may not operate a personal watercraft within two hundred feet (200') of swimmers, divers, shore, or moored vessels, except at headway speed.
(f) Personal watercraft, when launched from shore or returning to shore, must proceed directly to the area where operation is allowed in a direction as near perpendicular as possible, not in excess of headway speed.
(g) No person shall operate a personal watercraft unless he or she and any passenger is wearing a personal flotation device which is approved by the United States Coast Guard.
(h) No person shall operate any personal watercraft in a reckless manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of another.
(i) No person shall operate any personal watercraft unless it is numbered in accordance with section 46-22-4.
(j) A person operating a personal watercraft equipped by the manufacturer with a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch must attach such lanyard to his or her person, clothing, or personal flotation device as appropriate for the specific vessel.
(k) The towns of Charlestown and Westerly shall have joint jurisdiction over any waters that transcend both jurisdictions, may enter into a binding memorandum pursuant to section 46-23-15.1, and are hereby authorized to provide by ordinance regulations controlling the use of personal watercraft within their jurisdictions. The ordinances may include a ban or limitation on operation on:
(1) waterbodies which are less than three hundred (300) acres in size, or four hundred (400') feet in width;
(2) waterbodies upon which a tradition of swimming, shellfishing, fishing, paddle sports, or small craft rowing or sailing exist;
(3) waterbodies which can be demonstrated to be ecologically sensitive;
(4) waterbodies or portions thereof surrounded or bordered by significant concentrations of residential development;
(5) waterbodies where a history of powerboat regulation already exists; or
(6) waterbodies where navigational considerations due to congestion can be shown to exist.
(l) The Department of Environmental Management shall review and grant final approval of municipal regulations adopted pursuant to this subsection.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.