A bill was recently introduced in the state House of Representatives to allow persons under the age of 12 to operate a boat under certain amended conditions.
According to the Handbook of Michigan Boating Laws and Responsibilities, those now less than 12-years-old may only operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 6 horsepower and less than 35 horsepower if they are directly supervised by someone at least 16 years of age. Meanwhile, those between 12 and 15 may operate a boat of more than 6 horsepower provided they have passed a state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved boating safety course, have their certificate onboard with them, and are accompanied by a person 16 or older. Those 16 and older may operate any boat on the waters of Michigan.
House Bill 4845, sponsored by state Rep. Frank Foster (R-Pelston) calls for a few changes for boaters 12 and under. Under the bill, those under 12 can operate a motorboat on state waters provided they have been issued and are in possession of a boating safety certificate. They also must be under the direct supervision of someone on board that is 16 or older and who has been issued and is in possession of both a boating safety certificate and a watercraft endorsement.
Even with a boating safety certificate, those under 12 are still restricted to operating boats that are powered by a motor or motors totaling less than 35 horsepower.
Foster introduced the bill at the end of June, and it has been referred to the House Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Committee.