As the summer season slowly gets underway in northern Michigan, 7&4 News wants to help boaterâ??s brush-up on boating safety, specially the laws required for wearing life jackets.
In the State of Michigan, there are two requirements that apply when it comes to life jackets.
The first, there needs to be an exact number of life jackets on the vessel, that properly fit each person on board. U.S. Coast Guard Director of Boater and Water Safety Frank Jennings says, "So the PFD life jacket has to be sized and typed to fit, so if you have kids on board, you have to have kidsâ?? life jackets on board.â??
And speaking of kids, that's where the other major law comes into play: All children under the age of six have to wear a life jacket while the boat is underway.
Jennings says, "Itâ??s required any child under the age of six whoâ??s on board the vessel that's underway and whoâ??s not inside a cabin or below decks, would be required to wear a PFD."
So what happens if boaters don't follow the rules? The Coast Guard says it's different depending on who is patrolling the waters.
Jennings says for the US Coast Guard, "Depending on the circumstances, the penalty assessed can be anywhere from a warning for minor infraction, up to potentially a $200 Civil Penalty."
But the DNR Marine Patrol can go further; they can issue up to a $500 fine and charge boat operators with a criminal violation, a Misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail.
To hear even more details on the law, and if boaters and officials think the law needs to be taken even further, click on the video above.