(1) No person may operate or permit the operation of a vessel on the waters of the state without a personal flotation device on board for each person on the vessel. Each personal flotation device shall be in serviceable condition, of an appropriate size, and readily accessible.
(2) Except as provided in RCW 79A.60.020, a violation of subsection (1) of this section is an infraction under chapter 7.84 RCW if the vessel is not carrying passengers for hire.
(3) A violation of subsection (1) of this section is a misdemeanor punishable under RCW 9.92.030, if the vessel is carrying passengers for hire.
(4) No person shall operate a vessel under nineteen feet in length on the waters of this state with a child twelve years old and under, unless the child is wearing a personal flotation device that meets or exceeds the United States coast guard approval standards of the appropriate size, while the vessel is underway. For the purposes of this section, a personal flotation device is not considered readily accessible for children twelve years old and under unless the device is worn by the child while the vessel is underway. The personal flotation device must be worn at all times by a child twelve years old and under whenever the vessel is underway and the child is on an open deck or open cockpit of the vessel. The following circumstances are excepted:
(a) While a child is below deck or in the cabin of a boat with an enclosed cabin;
(b) While a child is on a United States coast guard inspected passenger-carrying vessel operating on the navigable waters of the United States; or
(c) While on board a vessel at a time and place where no person would reasonably expect a danger of drowning to occur.
(5) Except as provided in RCW 79A.60.020, a violation of subsection (4) of this section is an infraction under chapter 7.84 RCW. Enforcement of subsection (4) of this section by law enforcement officers may be accomplished as a primary action, and need not be accompanied by the suspected violation of some other offense.
[2000 c 11 § 98; 1999 c 310 § 1; 1993 c 244 § 14; 1933 c 72 § 5; RRS § 9851-5. Formerly RCW 88.12.115 and 88.12.050.]
| Intent -- 1993 c 244: See note following RCW 79A.60.010.|