Can My Kids Drive My Boat?

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Can My Kids Drive My Boat?

Exploring the ins and outs of who should drive your Sportsman Boat.

February 17, 2020
Cover image for the post Can My Kids Drive My Boat?

Growing up on the water is one of those memories you will all remember forever. Everyone loves being on the boat, kids as much as adults but remember that not everyone can legally drive a boat. Safely operating the vessel is the captain's job, even if the boat is at the sandbar. Now, this isn’t to say you can’t sit your son or daughter in your lap and let them “help” steer the boat but there are laws in place for who can officially operate a vessel.

The actual laws varies from state to state but all states do have laws outlining who can operate a boat and at what age. In South Carolina, for example, anyone under the age of 16 must obtain a South Carolina Boating License to operate a boat and they must have a licensed adult on-board. The law states that a licensed adult may not be intoxicated in any way, so your child under the age of 16 cannot be a designated driver.

State information:






New York

North Carolina

South Carolina


A great way to refresh your own knowledge on boat safety, is to teach your kids simple boating safety principles and general knowledge on how boats work. This will help them when it comes time to study the material and take their boating license class. Boating is great fun but safety is always the #1 priority and we must be role models to all of those around us. As a boater, the day you see your child's smile as they get to drive the boat is a memorable experience. Learning at a young age will make them better boaters as adults.

So, can your kids drive your boat? Yes, of course! Just follow all laws and regulations and make sure they have been fully licensed and comfortable operating the boat before you completely hand over the reins.