Rules & Regulations

The provisions of the Texas Parks and Wildlife code are applicable to and shall regulate activity on Lake Arlington.

1. Lake Arlington and its parks strictly prohibit:

  • Swimming, wading or tubing (tubes pulled by power boats are allowed).
  • Possession and consumption of alcohol or drugs.
  • Littering.
  • Open ground fires.

2. All watercraft must have a Lake Permit before launching.

3. No person shall launch a boat or other craft on Lake Arlington except at points designated and authorized by the City of Arlington.

4. All boating traffic rules involving passing, crossing and overtaking shall be observed.

5. Persons under the age of 13 are prohibited from operating a motorboat. Persons between the ages of 13 and 16 must successfully complete a Boater Education Course.

6. All persons involved in skiing, jet skiing and other similar activities must wear a personal floatation device at all times.

7. Personal Watercraft shall conform to the state rules and regulations (Chapter 571: Click Here) while in operation on Lake Arlington.

8. Engaging in fishing, boating, skiing or other activities in or upon Lake Arlington in areas designated as restricted and/or marked by buoys is prohibited.

9. Placing, operating or keeping any craft commonly referred to as a competition-type motorboat, houseboat, airboat or raft is prohibited.

10. The operator of any boat involved in an accident resulting in injury, or in damage to property, shall report the accident immediately to the Arlington Police Department.

11. The state registration number assigned to your watercraft must be permanently affixed to both sides of your watercraft in such a position as to be easily identified and must be up to date according to state law.

12. Operators must not operate any watercraft at a rate of speed greater than will permit him/her to bring such watercraft to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.

13. All buoy traffic markings designating "No Ski, Restricted, and No Wake" zones must be observed at all times.

14. Remember: Think boating safety first and please show courtesy to others at Lake Arlington!

Operating Rules

You are legally responsible for the safety of those on your boat, any damage your boat causes to other boats or property, and all others injured by any damage you cause. Just like driving a car, if you do not know and obey the rules, the fact that you do not know them is NOT a valid defense. The following are examples of some (but not all) "right of way" rules.

  • Overtaking: Be ready for trouble when a powerboat passes you in a narrow waterway. As the lead boat (which always has the right of way) stay on your side of the channel and maintain a steady speed so that the overtaking vessel can pass you safely. Both boats share responsibility for safe operation.
  • Meeting Head-On: As in a car, both stay to your right and as far apart as practical, so it is easier and safer to cross each other's wake. Give notice by steering to the right while still far apart. Stay with that plan unless the other boat indicates otherwise. If you have a CB or VHF, use it. Be careful.
  • Crossing: Every boat has a DANGER ZONE from straight in front (the bow) to past the middle of its right side. Like when meeting another car at a street intersection, the one on the RIGHT has the right of way. You must yield to boats in your danger zone.
  • Powerboats must yield to sailboats and boats being rowed or paddled, except in a narrow channel. Stay clear of all big vessels.
  • Navigation lights are required from sunset to sunrise.
  • All watercraft must be equipped with U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved personal flotation devices (PFDs). Check your boat for these items. Children ages 12 and under must wear a USCG approved PFD when the boat is underway.
  • Alcohol and drugs do not mix with boat operation. If caught, you can go to jail.
  • Boat registration must be current to use waterways in Texas.
  • Gasoline fueled boats must have USCG approved fire extinguishers aboard.
  • While water skiing, you must have a boat operator, an observer and a PFD for the skier. Skiing is not permitted after dark.

Personal Flotation Devices

The Choice is Yours

Get and wear a USCG approved PFD that fits well; make sure it is the proper type and approved for your specific usage. Put it on, adjust it, and test it in the water so you will know how it will feel when needed. Do the same for family members - especially children. Knowing what to expect in the water can prevent panic. Non-swimmers should wear a PFD on any boat. Never leave PFDs sealed in plastic wrapping. They must be ready to put on fast. Whenever water conditions or weather cause concern, have everybody aboard immediately put on a PFD. If you fall in the water, stay with your boat.

Offshore PFD (Type I) Offshore PFD (Type I): Bulky; but floats you the best; best for open, rough or remote water. Turns most unconscious persons face-up in the water.
Near Shore Buoyant PFD (Type II) Near Shore Buoyant PFD (Type II): Yoke-type, less bulky than Type I and more comfortable to wear. Will hold head of many unconscious persons out of water.
Flotation Aids (Type III) Flotation Aids (Type III): Vest style; popular among recreational boaters. Only designed for calm water with good chance of fast rescue. Wearer may have to hold head back to keep face out of water, which can contribute to exhaustion and hypothermia. May not hold face of unconscious wearer out of water.
Throwable Devices (Type IV) Throwable Devices (Type IV): Life rings and flotation cushions.
Special Use Devices (Type V) Special Use Devices (Type V): Approved only for the activities listed on the label. Some are approved specifically for white water rafting, board sailing, etc. Also includes new hybrid PFDs with foam flotation and an inflatable chamber. Type V hybrid PFDs are as comfortable to wear as a Type III, but when fully inflated have the flotation performance of a Type II or better.

Personal Watercraft

1. Who must take boater education?

Anyone born on or after September 1, 1993.

  • any vessel over 15 horsepower,
  • wind-blown vessel over 14 feet and
  • all personal watercraft.

Some violations of the Water Safety Act also require course completion.
A partial list of these violations is in the Digest of the Water Safety Act.

2. What does the course cost?
Fees start at $20 for a basic course.

3. Who must be certified to operate a vessel alone?
In Texas a person cannot operate a windblown vessel over 14 feet in length, a motorboat with more than 15 horsepower, or personal watercraft unless he/she:

  • was born on or after September 1, 1993 and has passed a boater education class or equivalency examination prescribed by the department.
  • is 18 years of age and can lawfully operate the motorboat and is on board the motor boat when underway.
  • is at least 13 years of age and have successfully completed a boater education course approved by the Department.

4. Who can operate a PWC?
NOTE: Children under 13 are specifically prohibited from operating a PWC unless accompanied on board by a person at least 18 years of age.
To operate a PWC, the operator must meet one of the following:

  • Born on or after September 1, 1993 and passed a boater education class or equivalency examination prescribed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, or
  • born before September 1, 1993, or,
  • Persons requiring boater education who have not competed it must be accompanied by a person 18 years of age (who can legalla operate) or older, or
  • At least 13 years of age and have passed a boater education course or equivalency examination prescribed by the department.

5. Is there a minimum operator age?
To operate a vessel alone in Texas, a boater must be 13 years of age to operate a vessel of more than 15 horsepower; or windblown vessel over 14 feet in length; and meet the requirements as stated above.

6. What forms of identification does a person have to carry on board?
Persons subject to this law must have a picture identification card and a boater certification card issued by the department in their possession.

7. Are there any exemptions to the mandatory education law?
A person born before September 1, 1993.

8. Is there another way a person can get certified, other than taking an approved classroom course?
A person may take a homestudy course by completing an online certification course or by purchasing a home study video and workbook from Kalkomey, Inc., 14086 Proton Road, Dallas, Texas 75244, phone: 1-800-830-2268.

9. Can I be required to take a boater education course?
Courts have the authority to require a boater education course for violators of certain offenses.

10. May I have an open container on a boat?
Open containers are legal, but operators of boats are subject to boating while intoxicated laws, similar to driving a vehicle. Operators or passengers may also be subject to public intoxication laws. Drinking and boating is DANGEROUS and the cause of most boating fatalities.

11. Where can I learn more about Boater Education?
12. What are the frequently asked questions about boating laws?

Click here for FAQ about boating laws.

We have information about the program, weather and buoy symbols...even a quiz on our Boater Education page. Check out our course schedule, by city or date, for a class in your area.

13. Requirements in other States

Must Have Aboard

Equipment Less than 16 feet Less than 26 feet
Personal Flotation Devices One Type I, II, III, or V for each person on board. Type V hybrid must be worn at all times to meet Coast Guard regulations. One Type I, II, III, or V for each person on board or being towed on water skis, etc., plus one Type IV available to be thrown. Type V hybrid must be worn at all times to meet Coast Guard regulations.
Fire Extinguishers At least one B-1 Coast Guard approved type hand portable fire extinguisher. Note: When Coast Guard approved fixed fire extinguishing system is installed in machinery space(s), no hand portable extinguisher is required.
Ventilation At least two ventilator ducts fitted with cowls for the purpose of properly and efficiently ventilating the bilges of every inboard engine and fuel tank compartment of boats constructed or decked over after April 25, 1940, using gasoline or other fuel having a flashpoint less than 110 degrees F. Boats built after July 31, 1980 must have operable power blowers.
Whistle, Bell or Horn Any device capable of making an "efficient sound signal" audible for one mile.
Backfire Flame Arrestor One Coast Guard approved device on each carburetor of all gasoline engines installed after April 25, 1940, except outboard motors.
Visual Distress Signals – for coastal waters, Great Lakes or high seas Required only when operating at night. Same night equipment choices as for larger boats as shown to the right. Orange flag with black square-and-disc (day); and an S-O-S electric light (night); or three orange smoke signals, handheld or floating (day); or three red flares of handheld, meteor, or parachute type (day/night)
Display of Numbers
Registration / Documentation
Sound Producing Devices / Bell
Navigation Lights
Pollution Placard
MARPOL Trash Placard
Marine Sanitation Devices
Navigation Rules
State and/or Local Requirements
Overall Vessel Conditions: as applies
  • Deck Free of Hazards / Clean Bilge
  • Electrical - Fuel Systems
  • Galley - Heating Systems
Marine Radio
Dewatering Device & Backup
Mounted Fire Extinguishers
Anchor & Line for Area
First Power and PIW Kits (**over)
Inland Visual Distress Signals
Capacity / Certificate of Compliance
Discussion Items: as applies
  • Accident Reporting - Owner Responsibility
  • Offshore Operations
  • Nautical Charts / Navigation Aids
  • Survival Tips / First Aid
  • Fueling / Fuel Management
  • Float Plan / Weather & Sea Conditions
  • Insurance Considerations
  • Boating Check List
  • Safe Boating Classes
  • Maritime Domain Awareness

Organic Risks

For information on organic risks present in recreational water, please reference the following information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Healthy Swimming/Recreational Water

Water and Parasites

Naegleria fowleri - Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM)

Invasive Species

What are Zebra Mussels?

Zebra mussels are invasive species that cause declines in native mussel and fish populations. They also cling to boat hulls and plug engine cooling systems. They hinder water recreation, destroy aquatic ecosystems and ruin beaches. Zebra mussels disrupt and damage municipal and industrial water supply systems by colonizing the insides of pipelines and restricting the flow of water.

What Can You Do?

CLEAN. After removing your boat from the lake, inspect it, your trailer and gear, and remove any zebra mussels, vegetation or debris. If you find zebra mussels or if you have kept your boat on a lake known to have zebra mussels, wash your boat, trailer and gear thoroughly, ideally at a commercial car wash or using a high-pressure sprayer with hot, soapy water. Water above 140˚F will kill the zebra mussels, and the high-pressure wash will help remove them from your boat. If you have a large boat, it may be necessary to have it professionally decontaminated.

DRAIN. Drain all water from the boat, including the engine, bilge, livewells and bait buckets, before leaving the lake.

DRY. Open all compartments and livewells and allow the boat and trailer to sit completely dry for a week or more before entering another water body.

Learn More about Zebra Mussels Here