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Rhode Island Boating Regulations Summary

Rhode Island's boating regulations are designed to ensure safety and order on all state waterways, both tidal and non-tidal. These guidelines are enforced by DEM Conservation and Boating Safety Officers, harbormasters, and police officers. Key points from the state's boating laws and regulations include:

Authority and Compliance

  • Compliance with the commands of enforcement officers is mandatory. Refusing to stop or move a vessel upon their command is considered a misdemeanor.

Vessel Numbering and Identification

  • All motorboats must be appropriately numbered as per state and federal laws. This identification must be visibly displayed on the boat's bow.

Required Safety Equipment

  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs): A USCG-approved PFD is required for each person aboard. Vessels over 16 feet must also have a throwable Type IV PFD.
  • Fire Extinguishers: Mechanically propelled vessels under 26 feet need one B-I extinguisher, those between 26 and 40 feet require two B-I or one B-II extinguisher, and vessels from 40 to 65 feet need three B-I or one B-I plus one B-II extinguisher.
  • Visual Distress Signals (VSDs): All vessels need USCG-approved VSDs; the exact requirements vary by vessel length.
  • Sound-producing Devices: Every vessel must carry a whistle or horn. Vessels over 12 meters also need a bell.
  • Navigation Lights: Proper navigation lights are mandatory for all motorboats operating from sunset to sunrise or during periods of reduced visibility.
  • Mufflers: Engines must have a factory-type muffler or an effective muffling system to reduce noise.

Operation Guidelines

  • Operating in a reckless manner that endangers others is prohibited.
  • Children under 13 must wear a USCG-approved PFD when on vessels less than 65 feet in length unless they are below deck or in a closed cabin.
  • Speed limits are enforced in various water bodies, with a general limit of 45 mph during daylight and 25 mph during darkness or restricted visibility.

Boating While Intoxicated (BWI)

  • Operating any vessel while intoxicated is illegal. The blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08% or greater.

Diving Activities

  • Divers must display a diver’s warning flag. Motorboats are prohibited from operating within 50 feet of a displayed diver’s flag.

Environmental Protection

  • The transport of any plant or plant part into or out of Rhode Island waterbodies on any equipment is prohibited, except for authorized activities.

Rhode Island Boating Regulations & Guidelines

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.