MINNEAPOLIS — If you live in Minnesota — and you're roughly 35 or under — you might soon need a permit to drive a boat.
New legislation in the House omnibus bill would require adults to take an online water safety course before obtaining a permit — something that’s currently only required for those under 18.
Minnesota has the most boats per capita, according to Boat Safe, however, it’s one of 24 states that does not require an educational course.
State Representative Erin Koegel, who is working on the legislation, says the course developed by both boating industry leaders and the DNR, provides reminders that are helpful to everyone.
"Our lakes are getting busier and we want to make sure that we are protecting our waters while enjoying the lake safely," Koegel said.
Lisa Dugan, a spokesperson for the DNR, said these safety protocols are especially important at the beginning of the season when the water’s still cold. That’s when 30% of boating deaths in Minnesota occur.
"Early season boating is a more dangerous time to be on the water, and the water is dangerously cold,” Dugan said. “And if something happens and you fall over, help may be further away."
Koegel also hopes another takeaway from the course will be proper cleaning of boats and trailers to help avoid the spread of invasive species.
"It’s really about making sure that you drain, clean, and dry your boat and your trailer and that’s how the invasive species bounce from lake to lake," she said.