Kayaking Laws In Alabama [Rules and Regulations Kayakers Must..]

There are so many great places to kayak in Alabama. Alabama ranks 14th in the nation with its vast number of rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and ponds. Before heading out on the water, it’s important to understand the kayaking laws in Alabama.

Kayaking Laws In Alabama Summary

Alabama has rules that are applicable to both motorized and non-motorized paddle boats. Failure to abide by the rules can result in heavy fines, imprisonment, and expensive legal fees.

These laws vary from:

  • Age requirements (to operate motorized and non-motorized vessels.
  • Life jacket laws
  • BUI (Boating Under the Influence)
  • Littering
  • Registration, Titling, and Permits
  • Etc..

Alabama offers over 130,000 miles of bodies of water, which makes it an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

Not a Lawyer Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, nor do I claim to be your lawyer. This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be taken as legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns regarding any laws in N.C. or any other state for that matter, consult a competent licensed attorney in your state!

Alabama Kayaking Laws

The Marine Police Division of the Department of Natural Resources enforces the kayaking and boating laws.

These laws are meant to keep everyone on the water safe. Ignorance of these laws will not excuse you from breaking them.

So let’s get started on what you need to know.

Alabama Age and Operator Restrictions & Permits


Do you need a license to operate a kayak in Alabama? No, but anyone under the age of 12 or born on January 1, 2002, is required to have a Boaters Operators Certificate to operate a motorized vessel, or must be accompanied by an adult regardless of vessel type.


Do you need a license to operate a kayak with a trolling motor in Alabama? According to the Roberson/Archer Act of 1994, anyone who operates a motorized vehicle, including a personal watercraft is required to obtain and carry an Alabama Boat Operatorers Certificat.

Sailboats, kayaks, canoes, and other oar-operated vessels are exempt.


What is the age restriction for operating a kayak in Alabama? Anyone younger than 12 years of age is prohibited from operating any type of vessel.

Children between the ages of 12 and 13 must obtain an Alabama boater safety certificate after taking a Boat Safety Education Course and must be accompanied by an adult that is at least 21 years of age and has an Alabama Boater Safety Certificate in their immediate position.

Anyone 14 years of age and older can operate a motorized vehicle without adult supervision, after obtaining a boater safety certification.

Alabama BUI (Boating Under the Influence) Laws

Can you get a DUI while kayaking in Alabama? Yes, the state of Alabama imposes the same DUI penalties imposed on drivers of vehicles. The only difference is it is referred to as BUI (Boating Under the Influence).

A boater with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% is considered under the influence. If convicted, you can face fines of up to $2,100, boat privileges revoked, and imprisonment for up to 365 days.

The laws don’t specifically discuss human-powered vessels. That said, according to the State of Alabama Boating Rules and Regulations, all vessels operating on any body of water in the state of Alabama are required to follow the rules and regulations.

Alabama Littering and Polluting Laws

Is it illegal to litter from a kayak in Alabama? Yes, According to the Marine Sanitation Act, which became effective in 2003, makes it illegal to inadvertently throw any trash, plastic, or garbage overboard.

If the event the kayak flips, you’re required to pick up any contents that fall out. All vessels should have a container or bag to store their container until they reach the shore for legal disposal.

Personal Watercraft (PWC) Life Jacket Law

Are life jackets required for kayaks in Alabama? Yes, all vessels on any body of water must have a wearable personal floatation device (PFD) for each person on board. In addition, vessels longer than 16 feet in length, must have a Coast Guard-approved Type IV throwable floatation device such as a buoy or seat cushion while underway.


In Alabama, anyone over the age of 8 years of age, you aren’t required to wear a life jacket while operating a kayak, canoe, inflatable raft, or SUP. That said, you should have one that is easily accessible in the event of an accident.

When operating a watercraft vessel within 800 feet of a dam, navigational lock, or hydroelectric dam, a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III, or IV wearable is required.


Anyone 8 years of age and younger is required to wear a wearable PFD while the vessel is underway, unless in a fully enclosed cabin or below deck.

Alabama Water Vessel Registration Laws


Do kayaks need to be registered in Alabama? No, Human-powered vessels such as kayaks, canoes, rowboats, etc are exempt from registration.


Do kayaks with trolling motors have to be registered in Alabama? All powered watercraft (including kayaks or canoes with trolling motors) used mainly on Alabama waters must be registered with the state.

This process can be completed online by filling out an application for boat registration. A successfully registered watercraft will receive a certificate and decal that must be placed in a visible spot, preferably on each side of the bow.

Alabama Registration Fees

Fees will vary in accordance with the length of the vessel and are subject to change.

  • Class I: $11.00
  • Class II: $15.00
  • Clas III: $30.00
  • Class IV: $50

Every class is required to pay an additional fee for insurance. Visit this site to find out everything you need to know about registering a vessel in Alabama.

Alabama Kayaking Sound Devices Law

Do you have to carry a whistle while kayaking in Alabama? No, Alabama exempts vessels less than 16 feet in length from carrying a sound-producing device.

That said, it is strongly recommended to carry a horn or whistle on board that can be heard at least one-half mile.

According to the United States Coast Guard Minimum Equipment Requirements for Recreational Vessels, vessels under 20m and used for recreational use should have a horn or whistle on board.

Fire Extinguisher Laws

Do you have to carry a fire extinguisher on a kayak in Alabama? No, kayaks, canoes, and human-powered vessels are exempt from carrying a fire extinguisher. Motorized vessels are required to carry a working B-1 fire extinguisher onboard.

According to the United States Coast Guard, any vessel with an enclosed fuel or engine space, permanent fuel tanks, and enclosed living space must carry a B-1 or B-II fire extinguisher.

Reckless Operation Laws in Alabama?

Is it possible to get charged for reckless operation on a kayak in Alabama? Yes, operating any vessel regardless of size that operates in such a manner that puts others sharing the water in danger is subject to fines from law enforcement offices.

Kayaking With a Dog In Alabama

Can you kayak with a dog in Alabama? The short answer is yes. That said, Alabama does not have any laws regarding kayaking with a canine, so you’ll have to abide by the rules of the state park, etc.

It’s recommended to use a life jacket for your dog to keep them safe in the event of an accident.

Transporting a Kayak In Alabama Regulations

How far can a kayak hang out of a truck in Alabama? According to the Department of Transportation Operations Division, no vehicle shall have an overhang of more than five feet in both the front and rear.

Any vehicle exceeding the limit must carry a red flag in the daytime and use a red light during nighttime hours.

Kayaking Fishing Laws in Alabama

Alabama residents fishing from a kayak are expected to follow the rules and regulations above. In addition, the state has implemented several fishing guidelines that must be followed.

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