Alabama’s Life Jacket Laws

Every boat operated on Alabama’s waterways is required to carry one Type I, II, III or V,  Coast Guard-approved life jacket or PFD for each person on board or being towed by the boat. If a Type V is used, it must be approved for the activity at hand.

All life jackets and PFDs must be in good and serviceable condition, be readily accessible and be of the proper size for the intended wearer. Sizing for life jackets/PFDs is based on body weight and chest size.

Additionally, boats that are 16 ft. in length or greater must have one, Type IV, Coast Guard-approved PFD on board and it must be readily accessible. 

Children’s Life Jacket Law

In Alabama, passengers under 8 years of age are required to wear a Coast Guard-approved, life jacket while on board any boat (unless they are in an enclosed cabin).

Personal Watercraft (PWC) Life Jacket Law

Any person on board a PWC is required to wear a Coast Guard-approved, life jacket at all times.

Towed Sports Life Jacket Law

Any person being towed behind a boat is required to wear a properly secured, Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times.

Alabama’s Other Life Jacket Laws

Each person on board a boat that is located 800 feet below a hydroelectric dam and/or navigation lock and dam, is required to wear a Type I, II, III or V Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

Alabama’s Additional Equipment Requirements

Personal watercraft (PWCs) must be equipped with an ignition safety switch or have a self-circling feature. If equipped with an ignition safety switch, the lanyard must be attached to the operator’s clothing or life jacket. The same regulation applies for boats that are less than 24 feet in length, powered by more than 50 horsepower and that have an open cockpit.

Alabama’s Muffler and Noise Level Laws

The exhaust of every internal combustion engine used on any boat must be effectively muffled (i.e. a boat’s engine must be equipped with a muffler, or ‘exhaust water manifold’ or another type of effective muffling device.

In Alabama, it is illegal to:

  • Use cut-outs or exhaust stacks, unless the boat is competing in a regatta or official boat race (or the boat is on a ‘trial run’).
  • Have a siren of any type on board your boat.
  • Operate or give permission to operate a boat, powered by an engine or outboard motor, in a manner that exceeds a noise level of 86 decibels, as measured by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Stationary Sound Level Measurement Procedures SEA-J-2005, or as measured by the SAE Shoreline Sound Level Measurement Procedure SAE-J-1970.

In Alabama, law enforcement may request that you submit to a noise level test.