New-boater education law goes into effect Thursday

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The next generation of New York boaters will be required to follow stricter education guidelines for operating motorboats, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said Thursday.

In a reminder to boaters, the state agency said a new law that goes into effect Thursday requires boaters born on or after May 1, 1996, to obtain an approved boating safety certificate for operating motorboats.

Designed to improve safety on New York waterways, a law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo means many new boaters will have to complete an approved eight-hour course to get a safety certificate.

Courses may be completed and certificates obtained through the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, U.S. Power Squadron or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, according to a news release by the department.

A list of approved courses is available on the parks department website at nysparks.com/recreation/boating/safety-courses.aspx.

Regardless of age, all personal watercraft operators still need a boating safety certificate, the release said.

The new law supersedes a 2012 Suffolk County boater education requirement that applied to all motorboat operators in Suffolk County, according to the state agency. Now, only those born after May 1, 1996, are legally required to possess a boating safety certificate to operate a motorboat.

The agency said, however, it encourages everyone, regardless of age, to consider taking a boater education class to sharpen their nautical knowledge.

"Recreational boating is a fun family activity and a great way to explore New York's outdoors," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said in the release.

"With summer fast approaching, I encourage boaters to make sure their young friends and family members can join in on the fun by staying up to date with new boater education requirements."

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Those who have obtained a boating safety certificate can keep track of it with a new state "adventure license." New Yorkers who have received a boating safety certificate can have the certification reflected as an anchor icon on their state driver's license, nondriver identification or learner's permit. More information is at licensecenter.ny.gov.

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