geometrical border

Boating Laws in Michigan: A Guide to Safety and Regulations

May 21, 2024

Michigan's picturesque landscape is interwoven with an extensive network of waterways, making it a haven for boating enthusiasts. From the shores of the Great Lakes to the tranquil rivers and inland lakes, the state offers diverse opportunities for recreational boating and water activities.

Amidst this thriving boating culture, prioritizing safety and adhering to Michigan's boating laws are essential. Boating safety not only protects individuals and families but also contributes to the preservation of Michigan's stunning aquatic ecosystems.

In this guide, we delve into the importance of boating safety and provide a comprehensive overview of Michigan's boating laws and regulations. Whether you're a seasoned boater or a newcomer, understanding these principles is crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience on Michigan's waterways. Let's embark on this journey to explore the fundamentals of boating safety and legal compliance in the Great Lakes State.

The Significance of Boater Safety in Michigan

Boating is a beloved pastime in Michigan, attracting millions of enthusiasts each year to its stunning waterways. However, with this recreational activity comes the responsibility of ensuring safety on the water. Understanding the significance of boater safety is crucial for everyone who takes to Michigan's lakes, rivers, and coastline.

Why Boater Safety is Crucial on Michigan's Waterways

Michigan's waterways can be bustling with activity, especially during peak boating seasons. With a mix of large vessels, personal watercraft, and recreational boats, it's essential for boaters to navigate responsibly to prevent accidents and protect lives. Boater safety practices mitigate risks such as collisions, capsizing, and injuries due to unexpected weather conditions or water hazards.

Importance of Boating Safety Courses and Certification

Boating safety courses provide essential knowledge and skills to boaters of all experience levels. Whether you're new to boating or a seasoned sailor, these courses cover topics like navigation rules, emergency preparedness, and proper use of safety equipment. Certification demonstrates a commitment to safety and compliance with Michigan's boating regulations.

Overview of Michigan's Boating Safety Education Requirements

Michigan law requires boating safety education for certain age groups and types of boaters. The goal is to ensure that operators understand the rules of the water and are prepared to handle different scenarios they may encounter while boating.

Mandatory Courses and Exemptions

In Michigan, boaters born after a certain date are required to complete an approved boating safety course to legally operate a watercraft. Exemptions may apply based on age, experience, or other criteria specified by state law.

Where to Access Boating Safety Training in Michigan

Boating safety courses are widely accessible throughout Michigan. Local marinas, community centers, and online platforms offer courses taught by certified instructors. These courses provide the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate Michigan's waters responsibly.

By prioritizing boater safety through education and certification, boaters contribute to a safer and more enjoyable boating experience for everyone in Michigan. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into Michigan's boating regulations and essential safety practices.

Dive into Michigan's Boating Regulations and Laws

To ensure safety and compliance on Michigan's waterways, it's essential for boaters to understand and follow the state's comprehensive boating laws.

Understanding Michigan's Comprehensive Boating Laws

Michigan's boating laws cover a wide range of regulations designed to promote safety and protect both boaters and the environment. These laws address various aspects of boating, including equipment requirements, speed limits, right-of-way rules, and restrictions on alcohol and drug use while operating a watercraft.

Key Regulations Every Michigan Boater Should Know

Overview of Special Regulations for Jet Skis, Sailboats, and Canoes/Kayaks

Special regulations may apply to different types of watercraft in Michigan:

By familiarizing themselves with Michigan's boating regulations and laws, boaters can navigate confidently while promoting safety and compliance on the water. 

Equipping Yourself for Safe Boating in Michigan

Before setting sail on Michigan's beautiful waterways, it's crucial to ensure you have the necessary safety equipment and preparations in place to enhance your boating experience and protect yourself and your passengers.

Essential Safety Equipment Every Michigan Boater Must Have

  1. Life Jackets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs): Every boater must carry U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets or PFDs for each person on board. Ensure that life jackets are appropriate sizes and in good condition, readily accessible in case of emergencies.
  2. Fire Extinguishers: Motorized boats must carry Coast Guard-approved fire extinguishers suitable for extinguishing fires on board. Check and maintain fire extinguishers regularly to ensure they are operational.
  3. Navigation Lights, Sound Signals, and Distress Signals: Proper navigation lights are essential for safe boating, especially during low visibility conditions. Boaters must also carry sound signaling devices (such as horns or whistles) and distress signals (such as flares) for emergency situations.

Additional Equipment Required for Different Types of Boats

Depending on the type and size of your boat, additional safety equipment may be necessary:

Importance of Regular Safety Inspections and Maintenance Checks

Regular inspections and maintenance checks of your boat and its equipment are essential to ensure everything is in working order and compliant with safety regulations. Before each outing, inspect safety equipment, engine components, hull integrity, and fuel systems. Address any issues promptly to avoid safety hazards on the water.

By equipping yourself with the necessary safety gear and conducting routine inspections, you'll be better prepared to enjoy Michigan's waterways responsibly and safely. Stay tuned as we explore licensing and registration requirements for boaters in Michigan.

Licensing and Registration Requirements for Michigan Boaters

Boating in Michigan requires adherence to specific licensing and registration procedures to ensure legal compliance and safe operation on the state's waterways.

How to Obtain a Boating License in Michigan

In Michigan, boaters born after June 30, 1996, are required to obtain a boating safety certificate (also known as a boating license) to operate a motorized watercraft. To obtain this certificate, boaters must:

  1. Complete a Boating Safety Course: Attend and successfully complete an approved boating safety course offered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or other recognized providers.
  2. Pass the Course Exam: Successfully pass the exam at the end of the boating safety course.
  3. Apply for the Boating Safety Certificate: Submit an application for the boating safety certificate along with proof of course completion to the Michigan DNR.

Eligibility Criteria and Process for Obtaining a Temporary Certificate

Boaters who have not yet completed a boating safety course may obtain a temporary boating safety certificate valid for up to 180 days. This allows time to complete the required course. To obtain a temporary certificate:

  1. Complete a Temporary Boating Safety Certificate Application: Submit an application to the Michigan DNR.
  2. Boat with a Supervising Adult: While holding a temporary certificate, boaters under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult (at least 21 years old) on board the watercraft.

Detailed Guide to Registering Your Boat in Michigan

All motorized boats and watercraft must be registered with the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) to legally operate on Michigan waters. To register your boat:

  1. Complete a Boat Registration Application: Fill out the boat registration application available from the Michigan SOS or online.
  2. Submit Required Documents: Provide proof of ownership (title or manufacturer's statement of origin), bill of sale, and any necessary lien release documents.
  3. Pay Registration Fees: Pay the applicable registration fees based on the boat's length and type.

Special Considerations for Out-of-State Boaters Operating in Michigan Waters

Out-of-state boaters visiting Michigan must comply with Michigan's boating laws and may need to carry proof of their home state's boating education certification or equivalent.

Understanding and complying with Michigan's licensing and registration requirements is essential for boaters to enjoy a safe and legal boating experience on Michigan's scenic waterways. 

Boating Accidents: Legal Obligations and Responsibilities

Boating accidents can occur unexpectedly and may have serious legal implications. Understanding your responsibilities and knowing what to do in the event of a boating accident is crucial for ensuring safety and compliance with Michigan's laws.

What to Do If You're Involved in a Boating Accident in Michigan

If you're involved in a boating accident in Michigan, follow these essential steps:

  1. Ensure Safety: Attend to any injured individuals and ensure everyone is safe from further harm. If necessary, provide or seek medical assistance.
  2. Report the Accident: Michigan law requires boaters involved in accidents to report certain incidents to the appropriate authorities. Failure to report can result in legal consequences.
  3. Gather Information: Collect relevant information from all parties involved, including names, contact details, boat registration numbers, and insurance information.
  4. Document the Scene: Take photographs of the accident scene, including damages to boats or property, to document the incident.

Immediate Steps After an Accident

After ensuring everyone's safety and reporting the accident, take the following immediate steps:

Reporting Requirements and Timelines

Boaters involved in accidents must report the incident to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) if any of the following conditions apply:

Reports must be submitted within 48 hours of the incident.

Legal Consequences of Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs (BUI) is a serious offense in Michigan. Operating a watercraft with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is illegal and can result in fines, license suspension, and potential imprisonment.

How Moss and Colella Can Assist with Boating Accident Claims and Lawsuits

In the unfortunate event of a boating accident resulting in injuries or damages, the legal team at Moss and Colella can provide invaluable assistance. Our experienced attorneys specialize in boating accident claims and lawsuits, offering comprehensive legal representation to protect your rights and seek compensation for damages.

If you've been involved in a boating accident and need legal guidance, don't hesitate to reach out to Moss and Colella for personalized support and expert advice.

In conclusion, boating in Michigan offers incredible opportunities for recreation and relaxation, but it also requires a commitment to safety, legal compliance, and environmental stewardship. As you embark on your boating adventures, remember these key points:

Enjoy Michigan's waterways responsibly and safely, and remember that MOSS and Colella are here to provide legal consultation and assistance with any boating-related matters.

For personalized legal advice or assistance, contact the expert legal team at Moss & Colella.

Client Testimonials

I HIGHLY recommend David Moss; he exceeded my expectations numerous times, and I feel fortunate and blessed to have worked with him and his team. Moss & Colella attorneys have relentless perseverance and dedication for everyone they represent.
If this firm takes your case, it's in exceptionally experienced hands. The hands of attorneys who care about your well-being and the outcome of your litigation!
When I got into a car accident, my life changed. David and Ryan understood how this change affected my livelihood and mobility. They handled my case professionally, and I couldn't be more thankful for all of the sincere guidance and help provided throughout this process.
Thanks so much for everything!!!

The Burls


 I was referred to Moss & Colella in 2018 following a car accident. I cannot tell you how confident and safe I felt knowing that I was in good hands. David, and Ryan made sure that I always had any questions or concerns addressed in a timely manner. I appreciated their compassion, and understanding as I got emotional, and the reassurance they provided, made me feel important and valued as a client. If you need a great lawyer for an injury, this is your firm! I hope I never need to be in a position where I’d need their help again, but if I did, I’d gladly seek their services!

T. Ray


My son sadly passed after a vehicle accident, it was a hard case. Mr. Moss was our lawyer, he was very helpful, very informative, very up front and put alot of effort into this case. He’s a great man, a honest man and his law firm will do the best with any case brought to them. Everyone at his office was very kind and very helpful. I absolutely recommend them for any of your lawsuit needs.
Very grateful for this firm!

S. Collins


Words can not express how grateful I am for the outcome of this case. It was truly a blessing to have this resolved sooner than expected. But without your help and my faith in your firm along with my faith on God, this may not have been possible. I appreciate everything you have done in orchestrating everything to this resolve, for your time and effort meant the world to me. I thank my friend for putting me in touch with such a talented group of people. You will always be considered my attorneys of choice for anything that comes up in the future that would render your services. This year has definitely been many blessings so far and I welcome many more to come. Thank you again for everything and may you continue to be blessed.


Mother of Client

Very few people on this earth impress me. You are one of the very few. My family and I thank you for all you did. You are a good man!



Other law firms would not take my case, they said it was too complicated. But David Moss took my case and got the result I was looking for in almost no time at all. I’m glad I didn’t listen to those other lawyers.



I just wanted to thank you for putting your time and effort into my case. You did a wonderful job last Thursday. You are what people say you are, a wonderful lawyer.



I do not only count on you as one bad ass lawyer, but also a friend. None of this would be possible without you. My deepest gratitude to you and all of the Moss & Colella team.



I am very relieved and very happy with the outcome. I appreciate everything you and your firm did to see this through and I will be grateful for that always. You all came highly recommended and now I see why based on what you did in helping my son through a very challenging moment in his life. We will always be your fans:) Thank you again and may you always be Blessed…


Mother of Client

Moss & Colella PC goes above and beyond, and then some, to get the results you need and deserve! Since my accident in 2021, in which I broke several bones and am not able to work anymore, my vehicle insurance company dropped the ball. They not only tried to discredit me, but also have been trying to screw me out of what was owed to me. Thank you to David and the whole team for putting their all into my case, I got more than I expected! I am so overwhelmed and appreciative by what they have done for me!



Thanks for another great Colella in Context, Vince. You are helping all of us by taking the time to write your thoughtful column.



Attorney David Moss was referred to me after my car accident, I really did not know what to expect. I met with him and he explained the process well. His office helped me get compensation for missing work because of the accident. He was able to get compensation for my caregiver. He also was able to get all my medical bills from the accident paid by the insurance company. And finally he was able to get me much more from the insurance company than their first offer. He and his staff are professionals. I highly recommend Moss & Colella Law Firm. The other law firms say “they will fight for you”, no Attorney Moss will fight for you. Give his office a call and let them handle your case.

Dana Darby


I was referred to Moss & Colella PC after the accident I was in. I could not have made a better choice. From the initial conversation I had with Mr. Moss about taking legal action, to the day I received my settlement, Mr. Moss and his team worked diligently and were adamant about getting what was deserved, keeping me informed each step of the way. What I respect the most about this firm is they are straight up with you about what is going on and what the best options are for you. Thank you to David, Ryan, Kelly, Janice and anyone else who had a part in getting this done.

Dame Mitchell


Best choice I ever made going with Moss & Colella. Vince and Wendy were always there for me from start to finish I love you guys and your firm. I highly recommend this firm. Vince and Wendy are smart, sharp and caring people. God bless you guys and your firm thanks for everything

John Bahoura


I was referred to David and I could never be happier!! I had NO Idea how my case would go or if I even had a case.  David was so STRAIGHT UP with me with the process and how things may go and I can honestly say I appreciated that the MOST. The entire staff made me feel so comfortable, they took care of business! I really appreciate you David!!

Breeana Coe


Attorney David Moss, Ryan, and their assistant Kelly were all AMAZING. They were incredible understanding and patient with me and my family. It was like they knew EVERYTHING  we were going through. They were all right by our side going though and explaining every detail. When this ordeal started I ask someone if they knew of a pit bull that would be able to help us. I am so so glad I was referred to Attorney David Moss.

Thomas Hale


I am very pleased with my experience with Moss & Colella, P.C.  The professionalism, and keeping you informed about every detail that took place were outstanding I could not have picked no one better to handle my case I would give them the highest grade that you possibly could give an attorneys office I am very satisfied with how my case was handled

Earl Moore


The firm of Moss & Colella was wonderful they kept me and my family well informed and constantly gave updates in our challenging legal matter. Kept their word and didn't promise anything they couldn't deliver. I would highly recommend this firm for their personal service and depth of legal knowledge which was a win for my family and helped me feel at ease during a tragic time. Thank you. David Moss Great job. Have a great future. Highly recommended law firm

George Baird


The best staff and always on top of everything. They stay in contact with updates and work hard and fast to hep you in every way. Thanks to all that worked on my case love you all.

Brian L


David Moss and the Moss &  Colella team were awesome! I would recommend them to anyone

Lisette Montry


This is a Top-notch Firm.. They explained my options every step of the way. I would recommend them to my closest family and friends.

Greg Sawmiller


Excellent service very professional fully satisfied

Sterling Crutcher


My experience with this law firm has been excellent. They work hard around-the-clock to solve your situation. I was suggest anyone that needed a lawyer whatever situation to contact them.

Deanne Freenan


Free Case Evaluation

Where did you hear about Moss & Colella, P.C.?
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

About the Firm

The attorneys of Moss & Colella have carefully chosen their career paths to fight for those that have suffered from injury and wrongful death. We believe every citizen should have the right to hire the best lawyer who will actively advocate for their case.

David Moss and Vince Colella have over 60 collective years of personal injury trial experience that provides you a level of legal services and success unmatched by other firms. By working together, we have the ability to find creative, effective, and efficient solutions to even the most complex cases. No matter what situation you face, we will help you get through it.

CTA Section

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Contact Us

Contact Us

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.