It is illegal in the state of Pennsylvania to operate any boat or to manipulate any water-skis, aquaplane or similar device in a careless, reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person.

Examples of reckless boat operation in Pennsylvania include:

  • Operating in a designated swimming area.
  • Weaving through congested boat traffic.
  • Operating a boat under 20 feet in length at a speed faster than ‘no wake speed’  while a person is standing on the boat.
  • Jumping the wake of another boat while unreasonably close to the other boat (when within 100 feet of the other boat creating the wake).
  • Waiting until the last possible moment to swerve to avoid a collision.
  • Creating a hazardous wake.
  • Harassing or disturbing wildlife.
  • Operating a boat at greater that ‘No wake, speed’ while a passenger is riding on the boat’s stern, bow, gunwales or transom (outside of the passenger carrying area).
  • Overloading a boat beyond the safe carrying capacity.
  • Overpowering a boat beyond the recommended horsepower capacity.
  • Operating within 100 feet of a person being towed (like a water-skier).
  • Towing a water-skier in a restricted area or where an obstruction exists.
  • Operating faster than ‘No Wake speed’ when within 100 feet to the rear or when within 50 feet to the side, of another boat that is underway, (narrow channels are an exception).
  • Operating a boat while a passenger is hanging off of, riding on, or sitting on the boat’s swim platform or ladder.

Docking Lights

It is illegal to use docking lights, while underway, except when docking and when the boat is traveling at slow, ‘No Wake speed’ and is within 100 feet of approaching a dock, a mooring buoy or the shoreline. A docking light is a flood or spotlight type of light that is permanently installed or permanently mounted on a motorized boat to help illuminate a boat’s forward course of travel.

Speed Restrictions

It is illegal to operate a boat at greater than ‘No Wake’ speed if within 100 feet of:

  • A shoreline
  • Docks or launch ramps
  • Swimmers, downed skiers or persons wading in the water
  • Anchored, moored, or drifting boats or floats