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Searching 2023-2024 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

The Vermont Statutes Online have been updated to include the actions of the 2023 session of the General Assembly.

NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.

Title 23 : Motor Vehicles

Chapter 029 : Snowmobiles, Vessels, and Water Sports

Subchapter 002 : Vessels

(Cite as: 23 V.S.A. § 3311)
  • § 3311. Operation of vessels; prohibited acts; authority of law enforcement officers

    (a) Careless and negligent operation. An individual shall not operate any vessel or manipulate any water skis, surfboard, or similar device in a careless or negligent manner or in any manner to endanger or jeopardize the safety, life, or property of another person.

    (b) Permitting use by intoxicated individual. The owner or person in charge or in control of a vessel shall not knowingly authorize or knowingly permit it to be propelled or operated by any individual who is under the influence of alcohol, narcotic drugs, or barbiturates.

    (c) Distance requirements.

    (1) An individual shall not operate any vessel, seaplane, racing shell, or rowing scull, except a sailboard or a police or emergency vessel, within 200 feet of the shoreline; an individual in the water; a canoe, rowboat, or other vessel; an anchored or moored vessel containing any individual; or anchorages or docks, except at a speed of less than five miles per hour that does not create a wake.

    (2) An individual shall not operate any vessel, seaplane, racing shell, or rowing scull, except a nonmotorized canoe, a nonmotorized rowboat, or a police or emergency vessel, within 200 feet of a divers-down flag.

    (3) Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit rendering assistance to another individual, picking up an individual in the water, necessary mooring or landing, or leaving shore, or operating in any other place where obstruction, other than the shoreline, would prevent abiding by this statute.

    (4) An individual shall not operate a vessel, except at speeds of less than five miles per hour, within 200 feet of a designated swimming area.

    (d) Underwater historic preserve area. A vessel shall not be operated in an “underwater historic preserve area” except as provided in this subsection. These areas are historic and archaeological sites located on the bottomlands of the waters of the State and are designated as public recreational areas. The Division for Historic Preservation may designate underwater historic preserve areas and they shall be identified by a floating special purpose yellow buoy marked “State of Vermont Underwater Historic Preserve.” The following requirements shall govern the operation of vessels at the preserves:

    (1) A vessel may secure to a yellow buoy only when diving or remotely operated vehicle diving at the preserve. In this subsection, “remotely operated vehicle diving” means using an unstaffed underwater robot to view a preserve site.

    (2) Vessels 35 feet in length or less may secure to a buoy.

    (3) Vessels 50 feet in length or less and piloted by a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain may secure to a buoy for the purpose of remotely operated vehicle diving.

    (4) A divers-down flag shall be displayed whenever a vessel is secured to a buoy.

    (5) On sites with multiple buoys, one vessel may be secured to each buoy.

    (6) When a vessel is secured to the buoy, all other vessels shall remain at least 200 feet from the buoy.

    (7) Anchoring is not permitted within 200 feet of the buoy.

    (e) Overloaded vessel. A vessel shall not be loaded with passengers or cargo beyond its safe carrying capacity taking into consideration weather and other existing operating conditions.

    (f) Attempting to elude a law enforcement officer. An operator of any vessel shall bring his or her vessel to a stop and not attempt to elude a law enforcement officer when signaled to do so by the officer wearing insignia identifying him or her as such or operating a law enforcement vessel sounding a siren and displaying a flashing blue or blue and white signal lamp. The officer may board the vessel.

    (g) Residential vessels prohibited on certain waters. The use of vessels for residential purposes is prohibited on all lakes and ponds that are located wholly within Vermont and on which there are no boat sanitary waste pumpout facilities approved by the Department of Environmental Conservation. For purposes of this subsection, “residential purposes” includes sleeping overnight on a vessel. Vessels operated by agencies, entities, authorities, or instrumentalities of the State, including the State Colleges and the University of Vermont, shall comply with this subsection, except when law enforcement, an emergency, or the performance of official duties requires otherwise.

    (h) Power of law enforcement officers; authority to stop and board. A law enforcement officer may stop and board any motorboat afloat on public waters of the State at any time to:

    (1) inspect its documents;

    (2) inspect the licenses and permits of the operator of the motorboat; or

    (3) conduct a safety inspection for required equipment.

    (i) Power of law enforcement officers; general. A law enforcement officer may make arrests for violations of this subchapter; may direct, control, and regulate vessel traffic; and may make reasonable orders in the enforcement of this subchapter. No individual may knowingly fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any law enforcement officer. (Added 1983, No. 212 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1985, No. 261 (Adj. Sess.), eff. June 4, 1986; 1987, No. 140 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 8, 1988; 1989, No. 65, § 7; 1989, No. 159 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 2, 3; 2009, No. 30, § 2; 2009, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 30; 2017, No. 83, § 161(4); 2019, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 238, 239; 2021, No. 20, §§ 254, 255; 2021, No. 76, §§ 17, 18.)