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What Do You Need Onboard Your Boat to Comply with Oklahoma Laws?

Going out on a boat can be relaxing, fun, and a great way to spend a summer day with friends and family. However, driving a boat isn’t something to be taken lightly. Boating can be dangerous, even in perfect conditions, and boaters must be prepared for emergencies and life-threatening situations.

To keep boaters and their passengers safe, the Oklahoma Department of Safety has a list of equipment requirements for all boats. If these requirements aren’t met, boaters can be pulled over and ticketed. In some cases, they can even be arrested.

If you own a boat or plan on purchasing one, ensure that you meet these requirements to avoid a ticket and to keep yourself and your passengers safe in the event of an emergency.

Registration and Title

All boats in Oklahoma must be registered and titled within 30 days of purchase. Registration numbers and a registration decal must be prominently displayed on boats in block, high-contrast lettering that’s located on both sides of the bow and above the waterline.

Personal Flotation Devices

Boats must have at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device for every person on board. Boats that are 16’ or longer must also be equipped with at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type IV throwable device, such as a life ring.

All passengers 12 years old and younger must wear flotation devices while boats are underway, and everyone who is being towed by a boat while water skiing, wakeboarding, or tubing must also wear a life jacket, regardless of age. 

Fire Extinguishers

Boats with gasoline-powered engines are required to have at least one fire extinguisher onboard. Boats that are between 26’ and 40’ in length must have either two B1 fire extinguishers or one B2 fire extinguisher, while boats between 40’ and 65’ in length must have three B1 fire extinguishers or two B2 fire extinguishers.

Legal Mechanical Sound-Producing Devices

It’s important to be able to communicate with other boaters and people in the water. For this reason, boats must be equipped with whistles or horns.


Not only do you need to be able to see in dim light, but you need other boaters to see you, too. Boats that are operated between sunset and sunrise must display working lights while on the water. They also must have working lights turned on during times of reduced visibility, including fog, heavy rain, and mist.

Boater Education Cards

Boats driven by children between the ages of 12 (the minimum age for driving a boat in Oklahoma) and 16 must have their boater education certificates on board to prove that they’re legally allowed to drive the vessels.

You Should Also Stock Your Boat with These Optional Items

Although these safety items aren’t required by law in Oklahoma, they can help make your next outing safer and more comfortable:

  • Sunscreen—Bring plenty of sunscreen. It’s easy to get a severe sunburn when you’re on the water and don’t have access to sunscreen.
  • First aid kit—Boating injuries can occur during collisions or normal operations. Getting medical help can take time, especially when you’re far from a dock or shoreline. A first aid kit can help you treat serious injuries and wounds while you travel to land.
  • Paddles/oars—If your boat breaks down in the water, you may need to paddle to land. Keeping paddles or oars on board can help you move your boat out of the main channel and towards a dock or shoreline.
  • VHF radio—Bad weather isn’t just unpleasant when you’re boating, it can also be dangerous. A VHF radio can be used to transmit emergency calls for help and alert you to serious weather conditions even when you’re out of range of traditional radio stations and cell phone service towers.
  • Visual distress signals—If you can’t send an emergency message using a VHF radio or communicate with other boaters by shouting, a visual distress signal can save your life in an emergency. These can include flares, flags, and electric signals for nighttime usage.

After a Boat Accident, Contact Our Firm for Experienced Legal Representation

At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we know how serious boating accidents can be. Unfortunately, many people who take to Oklahoma’s lakes are under the influence of alcohol, reckless, or simply inexperienced behind the wheel. When that happens, they can cause crashes that result in significant medical bills and years of lost wages for victims.

If you’re injured in a boat accident that was caused by a negligent boater, we want to help. Our Oklahoma boat accident attorneys know how to build claims that maximize our clients’ compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.