Marine Division - Safe Boating

Safe boating in Bonner County IdahoNegligent Operation

It is unlawful for any person to operate any vessel in a careless or heedless manner so as to be indifferent to any person or property of other persons, or at a rate of speed greater than will permit him in the exercise of reasonable care to bring the vessel to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.

Negligent operation includes, but is not limited to, operating at a speed greater than no wake or five miles per hour while within 200 feet of a dock, swimmer or other person in the water (except when safely pulling a water skier from a dock or shore); becoming airborne or completely leaving the water while crossing the wake of another vessel while within 100 feet of the vessel creating the wake; weaving through congested traffic; or operating at such a speed and proximity to another vessel, person or property of another person so as to require the operator to swerve at the last moment to avoid a collision.

Vessel operators are responsible for damage caused by their wake. Slow down and minimize disturbance or damage to other vessels, docks, floating homes and shoreline installations.

Grossly Negligent Operation

It is unlawful for any person to operate any vessel in such a manner as to endanger the life, limb, or damage the property of any person.

Alcohol and Drug Use

It is unlawful for any person to operate or be in actual physical control of any vessel while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances. A blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher for persons 21 years of age or older constitutes "under the influence." A blood alcohol concentration of .02 or higher for persons under the age of 21 constitutes "under the influence." Any person refusing to submit to evidentiary testing for the presence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances shall be assessed a civil penalty of $200.

The maximum penalty for operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a $1,000 fine and/or six months in the county jail. Those convicted are also required to attend and successfully complete a course on safe boating, and may lose their privileges to operate a boat for up to two years.

Any person causing great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement to any person other than himself while operating any vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs is guilty of a felony and shall be sentenced to the state board of corrections for a period not to exceed five years, with a minimum of 30 days. He may also be fined up to $5,000, and shall have his privileges to operate a vessel suspended by the court for a mandatory period of one year after the release from prison.


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Bonner County Sheriff’s Office
4001 N. Boyer Road
Sandpoint , ID 83864

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(208) 263-8417 Fax (208) 265-4378
E-mail: bonnersheriff@bonnerso.org

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday

Drivers License Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday

Booking Information: (208) 263-8417 ext. 3005