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South Carolina Department
of Natural Resources

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SC boaters should be aware of updated law about keeping distance on the water

June 15, 2021

Boaters and personal watercraft users hitting the water this summer should be aware of changes to state law this year.

A law signed into effect March 14 by Gov. Henry McMaster establishes that no one shall:

For specified bodies of water:

(6)(a) operate a personal watercraft, specialty propcraft, or vessel while upon the waters of Lake Greenwood, Lake Hartwell, Lake Jocassee, Lake Keowee, Lake Marion, Lake Monticello, Lake Murray, Lake Robinson, Lake Russell, Lake Secession, Lake Thurmond, Lake Wateree, Fishing Creek Reservoir, Parr Reservoir, or the portion of the Savannah River from the Interstate 20 Savannah River Bridge to the New Savannah River Bluff Lock and Dam

in excess of idle speed:

  • within 100 feet of a wharf, dock, bulkhead, or pier or
  • fifty feet of a moored or anchored vessel or person in the water;

All other State waters:

(b) operate a personal watercraft, specialty propcraft, or vessel while upon all other waters of this State in excess of idle speed:

  • within 50 feet of a moored or anchored vessel, wharf, dock, bulkhead, pier, or person in the water, or
  • within 100 yards of the Atlantic Ocean coastline.
  • The prohibitions contained in this item do not apply to an unoccupied, moored vessel or watercraft or to a person behind a vessel or watercraft who is on water skis or a floating device with the permission of the operator of the vessel or watercraft;

The above applies to boats, jet skis and other personal watercraft.

Violation of this law is a misdemeanor and generally punishable by fines of about $100-$600, depending on court fees in each county jurisdiction. SCDNR regularly patrols state waterways to enforce applicable boating and fishing laws.

For information on boating regulations, education and boat ramp locations, visit