Legal Age for Driving a Jet Ski in Utah


There are many beautiful lakes in Utah and boating is one of the most popular summer activities there. Before you hit the water, make sure you know who can and who cannot operate your jet ski. Utah has some different laws than other states and they are listed below.

Persons 12 through 15 years of age can drive a jet ski as long as they have completed their Utah boating safety education course, have their card with them on board, and are under the direct supervision of someone 18 years or older.

Those who are 16 and 17 years old can operate under the same conditions listed above without the need of a supervisor. Those 18 years and older do not need an education card to operate.

Steps to Becoming an Operator

In the case that you are between the ages of 12 and 17 and live in Utah you will need a Utah Boater Education certificate in order to drive a jet ski.

Luckily, the process to attain your certificate has never been easier since you can complete it all online. Here is what you need to do to get your Utah boater safety certificate:

  1. Get a physical copy of the Utah boater safety manual, or sign up for an online course. Once you study and complete the book or the course you are ready for the next step
  2. You will need to take a final exam and pass by getting 80% or higher. There is no limit on how many times you can take the exam. The exam covers information in the Utah boater safety course
  3. Once you have passed the exam, you can immediately print out your temporary card and get riding! Your test results will be sent to the state and then your permanent certificate will be sent in the mail to you

One awesome thing about a boater card is that they last a lifetime… that’s right! You never have to renew it as you do with a drivers license. It is a smart idea to take the safety course regardless of your age or your state’s requirements because it can save you money on your insurance.

If you do get in an accident and you do not have your boater safety education certificate, there are more consequences. 77% of accidents happen by those who have not taken a safety course and received their safety card. The statistics don’t lie! Spending around 6 hours going through the safety course online has proved to decrease the possibility of accidents on the water.

Understanding Utah’s Boating Rules

  • Before you get out on the water it is important to make sure that your jet ski is registered and insured correctly
  • For safety reasons, you should make a float plan. This is a plan you leave with a trusted family member or friend that includes a description of your jet ski (or boat), who is on board with you, where you expect to go and the route you are going to take, when you plan to get there and when you plan to leave. This is taking an extra safety precaution just in case something goes wrong. You can tell the person you entrust with your plan that if you do not return within a reasonable time they can notify the coast guard with your information
  • Each and every person on board your watercraft needs to have a life jacket that fits them and is US Coast Guard approved. Keep some extra life jackets just in case more guests show up and want to ride with you
  • A PWC needs to have at least one Type B-l fire extinguisher on board in case of an emergency
  • There needs to be a sound-producing device on board such as a whistle, horn, or bell in case of an emergency
  • One throwable floatation device is needed on board
  • Flame arrestors are required onboard a jet ski in case of an emergency
  • If your jet ski has a cut-off or kill key you will need to have the key connected to a lanyard that is connected to your wrist or your life vest. This is in case the operator falls off so the engine will kill as soon as the driver is disconnected
  • It is against the law to drink alcohol while driving a jet ski or boat and the same penalties as drinking and driving on the road: suspension of boater safety card, possible jail time, and fines
  • In some areas of the lake, there are speed limits and it is the law to follow them. When operating in a slow-wake area you have to go no more than 5 miles per hour. When you are within 150 feet of another boat, jet ski, person, water skier, shore, dock, etc. you have to slow to an “idle speed” which is no greater than 5 miles per hour
  • You cannot exceed the number of persons the manufacturer recommends on board. This includes the people you are towing, so keep that in mind. No one can be sitting in a spot on the PWC where they can possibly fall overboard; those on board must be sitting in a seat when the watercraft is moving
  • When towing persons behind your jet ski, you cannot make any risky turns or accelerate too quickly. You need to have some form of communication with those being towed. One form is side mirrors on your jet ski so that the driver can see and communicate with those being towed. The second option is having a supervisor who is at least 8 years old observing those being towed the whole time they are being towed
  • Those operating jet skis cannot operate at night (between sunset and sunrise)

Regulation Enforcement in Utah

You need to have your boater safety education card onboard with you at all times to keep the law. It is not uncommon for a law enforcement officer to ask to see your boater safety certificate so make sure it is always available.

If you are found operating a PWC or boat without your boater safety certification, you could have your rights suspended and possible fines. Make sure not to forget that paper! It is important to have on the water with you.

Boater Safety Certification Requirements for Residents of other States

If you are visiting Utah and you want to drive your jet ski on one of the beautiful lakes you can as long as you have your boater safety education certificate from your home state with you.

As long as you are not staying in Utah for more than 2 to 3 months, your boater certificate from your state will be suitable. If you are in Utah for longer, you may need to take Utah’s safety course and pass the exam to get your Utah boater safety card.

Renting Regulations in Utah

As long as you are 18 or older, you can rent a jet ski in Utah. You will need to show them your boater safety education card and a valid identification card in order to rent a PWC.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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