Michigan’s Laws for Negligent or Reckless Boat Operation

Michigan law states that a person will be found guilty of reckless boat operation if they carelessly, or heedlessly operate a boat, manipulate waterskis, a surfboard or other similar device, with disregard for the rights or safety of others, without due caution, or at a rate of speed or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger a person or personal property.

Examples of reckless boat operation may include:

  • Weaving through congested boat traffic.
  • Operating in a restricted area.
  • Overloading your boat beyond its safe carrying capacity.
  • Disturbing, harassing, or chasing wildlife with a boat.

Boat Speed Limits and Operation in Restricted Areas

It is illegal in the state of Michigan to operate a boat at a speed that may endanger the property or life of any person, or at a speed that does not allow the operator to bring the boat to a stop within a reasonable distance.

It is also illegal to:

  • Operate a boat at a speed greater than ‘Slow-No Wake’ speed (or the minimum speed necessary to maintain forward movement) when within 100 feet of the shoreline, when the water depth is less than 3 feet.
  • Operate a boat at a speed greater than 55 mph on the Great Lakes or on Lake St. Claire, unless the boat is a minimum of 1 mile offshore.
  • Operate a boat at a speed greater than is considered prudent or reasonable based on the current weather, water and traffic conditions.
  • Operate any boat in restricted areas.
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