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RULE §51.81Mandatory Boater Education

(a) All courses approved for certification and equivalency exam processes must be approved by the department and must satisfy the minimum national standards adopted by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in effect on June 1, 2022.

(b) Courses and equivalency exams shall consist of the following subjects:

  (1) Boats--boat uses, capacities, trailers, equipment, numbering, titling;

  (2) Boating safety--accident causes, prevention and emergency procedures;

  (3) Boating operation--preparation, float plans, navigation rules, navigation aids, local hazards and weather;

  (4) State laws--Texas Water Safety Act, Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) Laws, violation prevention and basic boating responsibilities; and

  (5) Information on how to prevent the spread of exotic harmful or potentially harmful aquatic plants, fish, and shellfish, including department-approved methods for cleaning:

    (A) a boat;

    (B) a boat's motor;

    (C) fishing and other equipment; and

    (D) a boat trailer.

(c) The course is successfully completed when the student scores a minimum of 70% on a course exam prescribed by the department.

(d) In lieu of a course, a person may complete an equivalency exam process consisting of a multiple-choice exam proctored by an agent appointed by the department or accessed through a department-sponsored web site.

  (1) Equivalency exam passage shall be set at a minimum 80 percent passing score.

  (2) A person who fails the equivalency exam must wait at least 24 hours to retake it.

(e) The minimum age for certification is 12 years of age

(f) The department shall:

  (1) train and certify boater education instructors upon completion of an application, background check, game warden interview and proof of student and instructor course completion;

  (2) administer all records of certifications; and

  (3) approve the standard form for a boater education identification to be issued to a person who successfully completes a boater education course or equivalency exam.

(g) A person 18 years of age or older may obtain a one-time deferral from the boater-education requirements of Parks and Wildlife Code, §31.109, after paying the fee established in §53.50 of this title (relating to Training and Certification Fees) to the department.

  (1) A deferral under this subsection does not authorize any person to supervise the operation of a vessel by any other person.

  (2) A boater education deferral is valid for 15 consecutive days beginning on the date of purchase and ending at midnight of the 15th day following purchase.

(h) The following are exempt from the boater education requirements of Parks and Wildlife Code, §31.109:

  (1) a member of the Armed Forces of the United States on active or reserve duty who is qualified as an officer of the deck underway, boat coxswain, boat officer, watercraft operator, or marine deck officer;

  (2) a member of the United States Merchant Marine; and

  (3) a person who possesses a valid Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator's Card issued in the person's name.

(i) A person engaged in showing, testing, or demonstrating boats under Parks and Wildlife Code, §31.041(d), is exempt from the boater education course requirement while showing, testing, or demonstrating a boat.

Source Note: The provisions of this §51.81 adopted to be effective January 3, 2005, 29 TexReg 12225; amended to be effective January 2, 2013, 37 TexReg 10225; amended to be effective February 16, 2014, 39 TexReg 766; amended to be effective March 29, 2020, 45 TexReg 2186; amended to be effective October 25, 2023, 48 TexReg 6214

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