It is illegal to operate any boat or to manipulate any waterskis, aquaplane or similar device in a careless, reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person. For example, operating a boat in a designated swimming area is illegal and is considered to be reckless boat operation.
Note: As a boat owner, you are responsible for any damage or injury caused by the negligent operation of your boat, if it is being operated with your express or implied consent.
Rhode Island’s Laws for Boat Speed Limits and Operating in Restricted Areas
It is illegal to operate a motorized boat or vessel within a water area, which has been clearly marked by buoys or some other distinguishing device as a bathing, swimming, or otherwise restricted area.
It is illegal to dock to any pier, wharf, or other shore structure without the consent of the owner, except in the case of an emergency.
The Department of Environmental Management, has established maximum speeds for boats in Rhode Island’s public harbors at 5 miles per hour (no wake is permitted).
Additionally, it is illegal to operate any motorized boat in any harbor or inlet or any pond or other confined body of water in this state in excess of 45 miles per hour during the hours from sunrise to sunset and 25 miles per hour during periods of darkness or other periods of restricted visibility (unless lesser speed limits have been posted by the appropriate state or local authority).
Certain waterways within Rhode Island may have their own regulations including horsepower restrictions and speed limits. Check for special restrictions before heading out.