Virginia Watercraft Owner's Guide


Boating laws are enforced primarily by Conservation Police Officers employed by VDGIF. 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 or water skis.
  • Operating or giving permission to operate an unregistered motorboat.
  • Operating or giving permission to operate a boat with an expired Certificate of Number.
  • Operating a motorboat with number improperly displayed.
  • Operating a boat with unauthorized number displayed.
  • Failing to carry the Certificate of Number 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).