Virginia Watercraft Owner's Guide


Boating laws are enforced primarily by Conservation Police Officers employed by DGIF. These officers have full police powers and have the right to lawfully stop and board your boat at any time to check for proper registration and required safety equipment.

Unlawful Acts

  • Reckless operation of boat, water skis or aquaplane.
  • Operating, while intoxicated, a boat, aquaplane orwater skis.
  • Operating or giving permission to operate an unregisteredmotorboat.
  • Operating or giving permission to operate a boatwith an expired Certificate of Number.
  • Operating a motorboat with number improperly displayed.
  • Operating a boatwith unauthorized number displayed.
  • Failing to carry the Certificate ofNumber on board or refusing to show it to inspecting officers.
  • Operating a registered motorboat more than 90 days in Virginia without registering it here.
  • Failing to report a change of address of a registered motorboat owner within 15 days.
  • Failure to report loss or abandonment of a registered boat within 15 days.
  • Failure to exhibit lights as required by law between sunset and sunrise.
  • A vessel operator failing to stop, render assistance, give name and address at the scene of an accident or failing to file an accident report within 10 days.
  • Towing a water skier not wearing a USCG approved life jacket without an observer in the boat.
  • Operating a motorboat without a muffled exhaust or with a cutout on the exhaust.
  • Failure to obey regulatory water markers.
  • Operating a motorboat or skis in an area designated for swimming.
  • Engaging in snorkeling or scuba diving in waters open to boating without displaying a flag (no boat shall approach closer than 25 yards when flag displayed).