Mississippi Jet Ski Laws: A Simple Cheat Sheet With All The Details

Jet skiing can be a pretty enjoyable, and fulfilling activity to participate in during the summertime! It can be an amazing way to create some memories with family and friends. Though to ensure you can have some uninterrupted fun you will need to know the laws that apply to jet skis within the state you are in.

In order to operate a PWC or a vessel, you need to be at least 14 years old and you need to meet the education requirements or have a valid motor vehicle drivers license to operate a vessel with a hp of 10 or higher.

The Basics to Owning a PWC

Mississippi Registration Fees

Less than 16 feet $10.20
16 feet but less than 26 feet$25.20
26 feet but less than 40 feet $47.70
40 feet and over $47.70
Dealer Number$40.20
Duplicate $7.70

Hull Identification Number

A Hull Identification number is a 2-digit number that is assigned by the manufacturer to vessels built after the year 1972. They help be able to determine the difference between multiple vessels.

In case your vessel is stolen you should write down your HIN number and put it somewhere safe.

Numbers and Stickers

Once you receive your registration number and the validation stickers you must display these items in the following ways:

  • There cannot be any other numbers shown on the bow of your vessel.
  • The letters have to be separated from the numbers with a space or a hyphen.
  • The color of your numbers must also be in contrast with the background of your vessel.
  • Each number must be in block letters and three-inches high.
  • The numbers must be read from left to right on both sides.
  • Each number has to be painted, applied onto your vessel as a decal, or place to be shown on both sides of the bow.

Following the Law

Reckless Operation of a Vessel

Improper Speed or Distance

Failing to go at a reasonable speed and even going faster than the speed recommended, especially during vessel traffic, poor weather conditions and closeness to shore can result in injuries.

To be more specific, here are some actions that are considered to be illegal in the state of Mississippi:

  • Going at a speed that can be harmful to your vessel.
  • Going faster than the speed limit posted near the body of water you are operating on.
  • Being within 20 feet of the outer boundary area that is marked by signs and buoys of it being a restricted area.
  • Operating at a greater speed than “slow, no wake” speed that is posted in a “no wake” zone.
  • Operating your vessel at extreme speeds in the close vicinity of another vessel, PWCs or dangerous waters.
  • Roaming around a swimming area (within 20 feet) and it is marked with red and yellow buoys.
  • Operating your PWC within 20 feet of another person who is fishing (gaining their permission first).

Overloading and Overpowering

Going against the recommended weight and horsepower shown on your PWC or vessel is unsafe. You should never exceed the maximum number of persons or weight that is recommended when you purchase or operate a PWC.

If the PWC does not have a plate, in which it shows its capacity, the owner must be able to demonstrate that the PWC follows the safe loading and powering requirements given by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Hazardous Condition

This is when you knowingly allow another person to use a PWC when they suffer from any conditions that may prevent them from operating the vessel accurately. Conditions that can be hard for the operator and their passengers are:

  • If the operator has a physical or mental disability.
  • If there are not enough personal flotation devices, fire extinguishers, backfire flame arrestors, or navigational lights.
  • OR if an unsafe condition simply exists.

Reckless Operation

Recklessly operating and being negligent of the rules for operating a vessel or PWC is putting yourself and others in danger. The following are examples of negligent and reckless operations of a PWC or vessel.

Encircling people that are participating in the water activities. Unless you are retrieving someone who is downed in the water. Do not operate a PWC around:

  • Anyone who is on a PWC or vessel that is fishing, water skiing, or engaging in water activity.
  • Anyone who is swimming nearby.
  • Unsafely approaching or passing a dock, ramp, a moored or anchored or even a swimming area that is marked is illegal.
  • Any other PWC or vessel.

Alcohol and Drugs (BUI…It’s Against the Law)

In the state of Mississippi you are considered to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol if your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher.

If you are found convicted of operating any PWC or vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or a combination of both you can be arrested and jailed for 2 days and receive a fine of up to $1,000.

On your second conviction of BUI you will be fined and jail as well as lose the privilege of operating a PWC or vessel for an entire year.

Any following convictions will result in more severe penalties.

Required Equipment

Personal Flotation Devices

Offshore Life JacketsNear-Shore VestsFlotation AidsThrowable DevicesSpecial-Use Devices
This vest can turn an unconscious person in the water to face up in the water. It was made for rough waters and for situations where rescue might take a long time. This vest is fit for calmer waters and faster rescues. If you were to wear this while unconscious it may not be able to turn you face up in the water.This vest can also be full-sleeved jacket and it is great for calm waters and fast rescues. This will definitely not turn your face up in the rough waters. This is generally worn for water sports.This type of flotation device is a cushion or ring buoys and are typically used to throw at someone in trouble. They are not made to last for long hours in the waters, or non-swimmers, or the unconscious. This type of flotation device was made for activities like kayaking, water skiing. These typically look like water vests, deck suits and personal flotation device hybrids.

Requirements for PFDs

  • A Type 4 personal flotation device that is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, and it must be on board a vessel that is 16 feet or longer and it must also be easily accessible for emergency use.
  • Any person that is on board a PWC or vessel (no matter the age) must wear a PFD.
  • Vessels have to have 1 of the 5 personal flotation devices on board your vessel and they also must be a wearable size for any passenger or operator.

What To Do in an Accident

In the event of a PWC or any other water vessel accident, the following steps must be taken:

The operator of the PWC must file an accident report if a person dies, if a person disappears, or if any injury causes anyone to become incapacitated for more than 24 hours.

These reports must be filed within five days of the accident or sooner if the accident involved the death of another.

Law Enforcement

The law enforcement officers of Mississippi enforce the laws within the state. These officers have the authority to stop your PWC or vessel if they feel the need to check if you are following the laws.

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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