Kentucky Fish and Wildlife encourages safe boating

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 20, 2024) — In conjunction with National Safe Boating Week, May 18-24, 2024, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources reminds Kentuckians to be safe as they get out on the water and roads this upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend.​​

​​Together with other law enforcement agencies and safety advocates across the state, the department’s Law Enforcement Division is launching a new safety awareness campaign to share throughout the summer. The “Don’t Be the U in BUI & DUI” campaign seeks to build awareness that boating or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to accidents and arrest.

Boating under the influence (BUI) or driving under the influence (DUI) of any substance that can impair the operation of a boat or motor vehicle is not only dangerous but also illegal.​​

Law enforcement partners joining Kentucky Fish and Wildlife in support of the campaign include Kentucky State Police, Louisville Metro Police Department, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard. The campaign includes educational videos covering boating safety topics. The videos will be released throughout the summer.​​

“Together with these partners, we are proud to bring this important safety message to Kentuckians to help make sure there are limited to no accidents as people go about their business of having a good time on the water this summer,” said Marcus Bowling, boating education coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “It’s not about arresting someone; it’s about making sure you safely make it home to your family.”​​

​​Kentucky Fish and Wildlife conservation officers will be monitoring waterways over the Memorial Day weekend and checking boaters for both legal and safety considerations including life jackets, boat registration, watercraft safety and possible impairment.

"Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer boating season, so now is a good time to remind boaters of commonsense precautions to have a good time and get everyone safely home after a day on the water,” Bowling said. “We recommend that boaters inspect their boats and refamiliarize themselves with basic safety procedures. Also, plan to prevent accidents that could happen on or near the water.”​​

​​Boaters are encouraged to consult the 2024-2025 Kentucky Fishing and Boating Guide before launching their boat. The guide provides basic boating information, including regulations, and is available online at

Thoroughly check to make sure that required equipment is present and in good working condition before launching. Make a float plan so that someone on shore knows about the trip itinerary and include passenger names, ages and emergency contact information. Watch the weather and stay aware of surroundings, especially nearby boat traffic.​​

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife urges all boat operators to complete a boating safety course or review standard procedures if they are already safety-certified. General guidance about boating requirements in Kentucky is available on the department’s website.​​

Kentucky boat registrations expire April 30 each year, so owners who haven’t already done so must renew them through their county clerk’s office. All mechanically-powered vessels used primarily in Kentucky will need a registration certificate carried on board. Rented boats must carry the lease agreement on board. Boats registered in other states may be used in Kentucky for up to 60 consecutive days without registering here.

A person must be at least 12 years old to operate a boat with a motor greater than 10 horsepower on public waters. This includes personal watercraft. A boat operator 12 to 17 years old must possess a Safe Boating Certificate Card obtained upon completion of a NASBLA-approved boater education course to operate a boat greater than 10 horsepower when by themselves.

Kentucky law requires each occupant of a boat to have ready access to a Coast Guard-approved life jacket that properly fits each person. Children younger than 12 must, at all times, wear a lifejacket that fits them while in the open portion of a boat that is underway. Life Jacket Loaner Stations, available in a growing number of locations across the state, allow boating parties to temporarily borrow life jackets.

For emergencies, call for assistance at 800-25-ALERT (800-252-5378), or contact a local law enforcement agency or nearest Kentucky State Police post. Marine channel 16 can be used to contact a local marina.

Opportunities for boating and fishing abound across Kentucky, but boaters should check online or call ahead to marinas for operating hours to ensure that a favored location is open and available. A comprehensive resource for fishing and boating access sites in Kentucky is available online at

For boating opportunities at nearly 30 Kentucky State Parks, visit Boating | Ky Parks. Information about boat ramps operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is available at:

The Fish Boat KY smartphone app, available for iOS and Android, allows boaters to buy a fishing license, find directions to local lakes, read fishing reports, learn about regulations, find fish stocking schedules, locate the nearest boat ramp and more. Download the app at Fish Boat KY App on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website (​) or search for “Fish Boat KY” in a preferred app store.

Additional boating information can be found on Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website. Questions may also be directed to the agency’s information center at 800-858-1549, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (ET) weekdays, excluding state holidays.

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