Mandatory Boating Safety Education Q&A

Beginning 11/10/2014, all individuals who operate a motorized vessel
in Hawaii’s State waters must have taken a boating safety course
and show proof of certification.

1. Why does DLNR believe the mandatory education rule is necessary?

2. How soon will the rule be enforced?

3. Who does this rule apply to?

4. What types of vessels does the rule apply to?

5. Where is it applicable?

6. Who is exempt?

7. How will it be enforced?

8. What is the penalty for a violation of this requirement?

9. What are the compliance requirements for an acceptable course?

10. Does the Windward Community College thrill craft certification class qualify as an acceptable course?

11. What Internet courses are or will be available?

12. Will there be an independent or home-study course available?

13. What about classroom courses or a course that I have taken previously?

14. What happens after I take and complete a course?
Q1. Why does DLNR believe the mandatory education rule is necessary?
A. A study released in 2007 by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) showed that states with the longest history of mandatory education had the lowest boating fatality rates. For most of the boating safety community, this study was conclusive evidence that mandatory boating education saves lives. Statistics are provided in the NASBLA press release entitled “Boating Education Requirements Do Make a Difference.” The study also indicated that the longer boating education requirements are in place, the lower the fatality rates become. The states with no boating education requirements in place have the highest average fatality rates. The states that have had boating education requirements in place for more than 20 years have an average fatality rate of 3.89 persons per 100,000 registered boats. Hawaii is mentioned in the study as a state that has some form of mandatory education (for all thrill craft operators only) with a fatality rate of 10.46 per 100,000 recreational vessels. Hawaii ranked fifth on the list of highest fatality rates in the year the study was finalized. In 2011, Hawaii had a fatality rate of 44 per 100,000 vessels, second worse in the nation. The Department’s goal in establishing this new rule is to improve on-the-water safety for all ocean users. The proposed mandatory education requirement for boating on State waters is very similar in nature and intent to the licensing of drivers wishing to operate a motor vehicle on our city streets and highways. Although the perception is that the ocean is a very big area, there are many times and many waterways where boats come in close proximity to other vessels, the shoreline, swimmers, divers, etc. and every operator should know the established rules of the road to avoid causing injury or death.

Q2. How soon will the rule be enforced?
A. The Governor signed the new administrative rule on October 30, 2012. It became effective on November 10, 2012. Enforcement of the new rule will begin on the second anniversary of the rule’s effective date, on November 10, 2014. After that date in 2014, boaters will be required to show proof of certification to enforcement officers.

Q3. Who does this rule apply to?
A. The rule applies to all boaters unless they and/or the vessels being used fall under one of the exemptions mentioned in the new rule (see “Who is exempt” below). Anyone who is capable of successfully completing a NASBLA and State approved boating safety course may operate a vessel. However, operators under 16 years of age (in addition to having the required certificate of completion) must be directly supervised by an adult 21 years of age or older who also holds the required certificate of completion.

Q4. What types of vessels does the rule apply to?
A. Any power driven vessel propelled by a motor greater than 10 horsepower, even vessels propelled primarily by wind/sail that are equipped with an auxiliary engine.

Q5. Where is it applicable?
A. All navigable State waters from the high water mark on shore to three miles at sea.

Q6. Who is exempt?
A. The rule provides an exemption for individuals who: 1) possess a valid merchant mariner credential issued by the United States Coast Guard, (2) operate a thrill craft in a commercial thrill craft zone as authorized by the State, 3) operate a vessel powered by a motor rated at 10 horsepower or less, 4) are on a voyage originating out of State and will remain in the State less than 60 calendar days, or 5) received a safety briefing approved by the State and are operating a rented vessel. As of this writing, the rule does not provide exemptions for ocean safety personnel, federal/state/county personnel, lifeguards, marine enforcement, researchers, etc.

Q7. How will it be enforced?
A. “§13-244-15.5 Operation of power driven vessels. (d) A person who is operating a power driven vessel on any waters of the State and who is stopped by a law enforcement officer shall present to the officer, upon request, a certificate of completion required by this rule or acceptable evidence of exemption from the required certificate. Failure to present a certificate of completion or acceptable evidence of exemption shall constitute a violation of this rule, unless the person presents the required certificate or evidence of exemption to a court of law and satisfies the court that this person held a proper certificate or was exempt at the time the person was asked to produce the certificate. (e) A person who alters, forges, counterfeits or falsifies a certificate or other document used as evidence, or who possesses a certificate or other document that has been altered, forged, counterfeited or falsified, or who loans or permits that person’s certificate or other document to be used by another person, shall be in violation of this rule.

Q8. What is the penalty for a violation of this requirement?
A. Any person violating this rule shall be fined not less than $50 and not more than $1000 or sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than thirty days, or both, for each violation; the court may also prevent an individual from operating a vessel in State waters of the State for up to 30 days.

Q9. What are the compliance requirements for an acceptable course?
A. Acceptable courses must be NASBLA and State of Hawaii approved.
Approximately 85% of every NASBLA approved State boating safety course must contain the same content and meet the same presentation standards dictated by NASBLA. The content for the remaining 15% of a NASBLA approved State boating course is set by the regulating State. Each State has its own rules and regulations regarding vessel registration, prohibitions, carriage requirements, exemptions, enforcement, etc. This collection of rules particular to this State is what is known as the “state specific information.” Incorporating the state specific information into the NASBLA approved course offered by the USCG Aux and the Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron creates a hybrid course tailored for use by that specific state

Q10. Does the Windward Community College thrill craft certification class qualify as an acceptable course?
A. No. The WCC thrill craft operator’s class is not NASBLA approved. If a graduate of the class has taken no other boating safety class that meets the compliance criteria, he/she will need to do so before enforcement of the rule begins in 2014.

Q11. What Internet courses are or will be available?
A. DOBOR is fostering a proliferation of courses so that Hawaii residents have an abundance of choices for acquiring a boating certificate of completion. Choices will include Internet-based, home study and classroom courses.

One fully compliant class already available via the Internet through BoatUS.org is free. At completion of the BoatUS.org course, the student can print a certificate of completion that will be acceptable for compliance. If unable to print the certificate, BoatUS.org will send a copy of your certificate to you for $5.00.

Certification through BoatUS.com is also available but there is a fee associated with this course.

Another online course available through Boat-ed.com is also compliant.

An Internet course offered by BOATERexam.com is slated to be ready for use by Hawaii boaters in the future.

COMPLIANT INTERNET COURSES AVAILABLE NOW INCLUDE:
Boat-ed.com
BoatUS.org (free)
BoatUS.com

Q12. Will there be an independent or home-study course available?
A. The Boat-ed.com companion manual will also be used as a home study course that can be completed with a proctored test arranged with DOBOR staff. DOBOR will be scheduling proctored tests for students and issuing certificates of completion for this course as well. Projected start date for this is end of May, 2014.

Q13. What about classroom courses or a course that I have taken previously?
A. DOBOR will make use of classroom courses that are approved by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and are already servicing Hawaii residents. Three basic boating courses exist. US Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCG Aux) offers two courses throughout the islands, About Boating Safety (ABS) and Boating Skills and Seamanship (BSS). The US Power Squadrons (USPS) offers America’s Boating Course (ABC) only on Oahu through the Hawaii Sail and Power Squadron and the Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron.

DOBOR distributed the “module” of State specific rules to all NASBLA approved courses for Hawaii. The course providers (on the list of compliant classroom courses that follows) have incorporated the module into existing course offerings and are now considered compliant with the mandatory education rule.

Anyone who has already passed a US Coast Guard Auxiliary or US Power Squadron course prior to incorporation of the State specific content may be able to take an abbreviated course just on the materials in the module of State specific information. This should greatly reduce the time and cost to comply with the new rule. Please check with local representatives of these boating safety programs to see if you qualify.

If a boater has taken a NASBLA approved course anywhere else, an abbreviated (approx. half-day) course may be available through the USCG Aux, the local Sail and Power Squadrons and other certified providers to cover the rules and regulations specific to Hawaii so the boater will be compliant.

COMPLIANT CLASSROOM COURSES AVAILABLE NOW INCLUDE:
About Boating Safety (ABS) and Boating Skills and Seamanship (BSS) courses offered by all US Coast Guard Auxiliary flotillas in the State of Hawaii.
America’s Boating Course (ABC) offered by the Hawaii Sail and Power Squadron.
America’s Boating Course (ABC) offered by the Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron.

Watch for announcements about DOBOR partners beginning new classroom courses on Kauai through the Kauai Lifeguard Association and on Maui through the Maui Trailer Boat Club.

Q14. What happens after I take and complete a course?
For your card/certificate to be accepted by enforcement personnel as proof of compliance, it should bear a blue stamp that indicates the course you took is approved for (the) State of Hawaii by DLNR.

If you recently completed a classroom course that is fully compliant, the course provider will issue a new card and/or certificate bearing the stamp that indicates that you successfully completed their NASBLA and State approved course.

If you had already taken a NASBLA approved class and just took the State specific compliance module, the course provider will update an existing card by stamping it or issue you a new card that is stamped.

If you took an Internet-based course, you received a laminated card, a paper certificate of completion, or both. If the laminated card does not bear the DLNR stamp of approval, or you only have a paper certificate, you may apply for a free, department-issued, laminated card that indicates you are compliant with the mandatory education requirement. Watch for announcements on the DOBOR web site and in the media when the cards become available, probably at the beginning of May, 2014.

The blue, DLNR stamp of approval on a boating safety card is your guarantee that you are compliant. If approached by DLNR enforcement personnel on the water or at a ramp, be prepared to make your boating safety card and a photo ID (If requested) available upon demand. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

This page was last updated on 3/21/14