Louisiana kayaking laws are set and enforced by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. To help you paddle safely and legally in LA, we’ve put together a summary of the Louisiana kayak rules and regulations.
Louisiana Kayak Laws
- Louisiana Kayak Law – Louisiana considers kayaks and canoes to be non-motorized vessels that are not equipped with or propelled by any type of machinery.
- Louisiana Kayak Registration – A motorboat is defined as any vessel equipped with or propelled by any type of machinery whether or not such machinery is the principal source of propulsion.
- Motorized Kayak Registration – All boats with motors, including electric trolling motors, operating on the waters of Louisiana, must be registered and numbered.
- Kayak Operator Licensing – There is no minimum age or minimum education requirement to operate a kayak in Louisiana.
- Motorized Kayaking Age – If you were born after January 1, 1984, you are required to hold a boater education certificate to operate a motorized boat with over 10 horsepower unsupervised.
- Kayaking BWI Law – Louisiana has laws prohibiting Boating While Intoxicated (BWI)—0.08% BAL for those at least 21 years old is considered under the influence; 0.02% BAL for those under 21.
- Kayaking Life Jacket Law – One life jacket on board per person. And persons 16 and under must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II or III, or V PFD.
- Kayak Lights Law – Between sunset and sunrise, kayakers must have on board a 360-degree white light visible all around for a distance of two miles. If practical, red and green bow lights are required as well.
- Kayaking Sounding Devices – Kayakers are not required to carry a sound producing device, though at least a whistle is recommended; longer vessels are required to have certain devices.
- Kayaking VDS Law – On federally controlled waters (coastline), all vessels are required to carry U.S. Coast Guard-approved night VDS devices. Manually propelled vessels are not required to carry day signalling devices.
That only summarizes Louisiana boating laws applied to kayaking and canoeing. The details are more in-depth and specific.
Read on to find out more on how to paddle legally in Louisiana.
Louisiana Kayak Registration Laws
Do you have to register a kayak in Louisiana? Kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards that are not propelled by machinery do not have to be registered. Manually-propelled vessels (like kayaks and canoes) are exempted from registration.
Do you have to register a kayak with a trolling motor in Louisiana? Yes, each mechanically-propelled vessel that is operated, used, or stored on the “waters of the state” of Louisiana must be titled.
So, if you put a trolling motor on your kayak or canoe it becomes a vessel that is propelled by machinery and has to be registered.
NOTE: “Waters of the State” refers to:
- Waters within a state’s jurisdiction
- Seas adjacent to a state
- Coastal waters out to three nautical miles
Louisiana Motorized Kayak Registration Resources
- You can register your motorized kayak or canoe at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website page.
Louisiana Kayaking Education Laws
Do you need a license to kayak in Louisiana? You don’t need a license to operate a kayak in Louisiana. Louisiana doesn’t have a kayaking license, age, or boater education requirement.
Who can operate a motorized kayak in Louisiana ? If you were born after January 1, 1984, you must hold a certificate in boater safety education in order to operate a vessel with more than 10 horsepower, unsupervised.
Otherwise, you must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who has completed the course. Persons under 10 cannot take the certification course, therefore may not operate a motorized boat unsupervised.
Boater safety certificates must be issued by providers approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).
NASBLA-approved boating education courses for Louisiana are offered by Boat-ed.com. (affiliate link)
Louisiana Kayaking Alcohol and Drug Laws
Can you get a DUI on a kayak in Louisiana? You can get a DUI on a kayak in Lousiana, because it’s a violation of state law to operate a vessel while impaired by alcohol or drugs. You’re considered under the influence if your blood alcohol level is 0.08% or more. Under 21 the BAL limit is 0.02%.
Louisiana BUI Penalties
Louisiana BUIs carry some big penalties:
- First offense with BAL under 0.15% – $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Louisiana judges may reduce the sentence in certain cases, such as if the offender completes a substance abuse program.
- First offense with BAL between 0.15% and 0.2% – Same fines as above, with an additional mandatory 48 hours in jail.
- First offense with BAL between over 0.2% – $750 to $1,000 fine, and mandatory minimum of 48 hours in jail.
- Second offense with BAL under 0.15% – $750 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Louisiana judges may reduce the sentence in certain cases, such as if the offender completes a substance abuse program.
- Second offense with BAL between 0.15% and 0.2% – Same fines as above, with an additional mandatory 96 hours in jail.
- Second offense with BAL between over 0.2% – $1,000 fine, mandatory minimum of 96 hours in jail, and four-year license suspension.
- Second offense within one year of first offense – minimum of 30 days in jail.
- Third Offense (felony if committed within a ten-year period) – $2,000 fine, one to five years in prison, probation, completion of substance abuse program, 240 hours of community service, and license suspension.
Can the police search your kayak in Louisiana? Enforcement of boating regulations is handled by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division. And all Louisiana law enforcement officers are legally able to stop and board your boat to ensure compliance with regulations.
Louisiana Kayak Life Jacket Laws
Do you have to wear a life jacket on a kayak in Louisiana? The quick answer is no. However, all vessels must have at least one USCG–approved Type I, II, or III PFD that is wearable and the appropriate size, easily accessible, and in serviceable condition.
Motorized kayak and canoe life jacket requirement
However, each person on board a “motorboat” less than 26 feet long that’s propelled by an outboard motor that is steered by a hand tiller or steering arm attached to the motor, must wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD while underway. (This requirement does not apply to electronic trolling motors.)
Louisiana PFD Age Rules
Children under 16 on board a vessel less than 26 feet long, must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II or III personal flotation device while onboard any vessel docked or underway.
Louisiana Throwable PFD Rules
Boats 16 feet or longer must have one USCG–approved Type IV “throwable” device/PFD on board and readily accessible.
Louisiana Kayaking Lights Laws
What lights do I need on my kayak at night?
Unpowered Vessels Less Than 23 Feet When Underway
Kayakers are required to carry a white light onboard their kayak. The kayaker is to display the light if another vessel approaches, to avoid a possible collision.
- If practical, exhibit green and red bow lights and a white stern light, visible for a distance of one mile.
- If not practical, you must have on board a 360-degree white light visible all around on the horizon for a distance of two miles.
Lights While Moored or Anchored
Whenever moored or anchored away from a mooring area, between sunset and sunrise, you must display a white light that can be seen in all directions.
Lights Display Times
- Between sunrise and sunset
- During periods of restricted visibility
NOTE: Red or blue lights are reserved for police.
Louisiana Kayaking Sounding and Visual Distress Devices Laws
Do I need a whistle on a kayak in Louisiana? On any Louisiana waters, vessels 16 feet or longer, but less than 26 feet, must carry some mechanical means to make a sound. Kayaks and canoes can carry a horn or whistle to satisfy this requirement.
NOTE: The best and most convenient “sounding” device for kayakers and canoes is a whistle, attached to your PFD in a place that’s easy and quick to reach.
VDS – Visual Distress Signaling Devices
VDS At Night
Vessels on federally controlled waters must be equipped with USCG–approved VDSs. All vessels, regardless of length or type, are required to carry night VDS signals when operating between sunset and sunrise.
VDS During the Day
Most vessels must carry day signals, except:
- Recreational vessels less than 16 feet
- Non-motorized open sailboats less than 26 feet
- Manually-propelled vessels (canoes and kayaks)
Louisiana Kayaking Fire Extinguisher Laws
Do I need a fire extinguisher on my motorized kayak in Louisiana? The quick answer is no. One USCG-approved B-1 type fire extinguisher is required for all recreational motorboats except Class A or Class 1 boats that don’t permit the entrapment of flammable gasses or vapors. (That’s your kayak with a trolling motor)
Non-motorized boats are exempt from the fire extinguisher requirements.
Additional Louisiana Kayaking Laws Resources
Louisiana Kayaking Laws Enforcement
Louisiana kayaking laws and all other boating laws are enforced by:
Louisiana Boating Education Resources
- NASBLA-approved Boater Education and Safety Courses for Louisiana are offered by Boat-ed.com. (affiliate link)
- BoaterExam.com offers a FREE Paddle Sports Safety Course that we highly recommend taking, especially if you’re brand new to kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding.
- United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Paddlecraft Safety page.