The following are the most common boating violations observed by Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol. Be mindful of the rules and use common sense to have a safe and enjoyable time on Lake Minnetonka.
- Life Jackets
One coast guard approved life jacket must be readily available for each person on board the watercraft. Watercraft measuring 16’ or longer must also have a throwable flotation device. Children below the age of 10 must wear a life jacket while on a watercraft that is underway.
- Boating Under the Influence
Boating while under the influence of alcohol or any other controlled or illegal substance is illegal. Drivers convicted of BWI face similar consequences to DWIs while driving on land such as criminal penalties, civil litigation, and other liabilities regardless of the type of vehicle they were operating.
- Fire Extinguishers
Boats with enclosed fuel tanks must have ventilation and fire extinguishers.
All motorized watercraft and non motorized watercraft over 10 feet in length must be registered by the MN Department of Natural Resources.
- Riding on Gunwales or Decking
It is illegal to ride or sit on, or operate a motorboat while someone is riding or sitting on the gunwale, bow, transom, decking over the bow, side or stern while underway (unless it is equipped with an adequate railing).
- Operating Personal Watercraft After Hours
Personal watercraft may only be operated from 9:30 a.m. until one hour before sunset, and no longer than 30 consecutive minutes in a single area and more than 300 feet from any shoreline, dock, boat, or swimmer.
- Quiet Waters
Motor-operated watercraft (including waterborne aircraft) cannot be operated in excess of 5 mph or at a speed that results in more than a minimum wake in designated quiet water areas. See the summer rules brochure for a map of locations.
- Towing Observer
In addition to the watercraft operator, an observer (not just a rear-facing mirror) is required to continuously observe the person(s) being towed. The observer must be at least 12 years old and able to communicate with the driver.
- Navigational Lights
Proper navigational lights, including a red light to port, a green light to starboard, and a white light to stern, must be displayed when boating after sunset and before sunrise.
- Speed Limits
The daytime speed limit is 40 mph; the nighttime speed limit is 20 mph; the speed limit for Quiet Water Areas or within 150 of shoreline, docks, and swimmers is 5 mph.