New Mandatory Life Jacket Law for Youth

A new boating law was signed into law by Iowa Governor Chet Culver on May 10 requiring children under age 13 to wear a life jacket while in a boat that is underway. The law became effective on May 10. "This is a good law and we are glad to have it," said Randy Edwards, assistant chief of the DNR's Law Enforcement Bureau and past president of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

The new law states "a person shall not operate a vessel in Iowa unless every person on board the vessel who is age 12 and under is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket." A lifejacket must be worn when the vessel is underway, which means when a vessel is not at anchor, tied to a dock or the bank/shore or aground. A child age 12 and under in an enclosed cabin, below deck, or aboard a commercial vessel with a capacity of 25 persons or more is exempt. There are only two states remaining without some age requirement for life jackets for children - Wisconsin and Virginia.