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Can You Ride a Jet Ski at Night? Is it Legal? [Video]

Can You Ride a Jet Ski at Night? Is it Legal? [Video]

When you’re searching for jet ski videos on Youtube, you’ve probably seen some jet ski riders who operate their skis in the dark.

You may be wondering if it’s legal to operate a jet ski at night. You may also want to know if it’s safe and what kinds of accessories are needed for jet ski night riding.

Since riding a jet ski in the dark is dangerous and can lead to accidents, it’s essential to know the rules and regulations that apply to you.

We, at JetDrift, have created a guide for you that outlines the important information you’ll need if you want to ride after sunset!

Can you ride a jet ski at night?

If you’d like to jet ski in the dark, it’s most important to know the rules and regulations that apply to you.

When it comes to the U.S., it’s good to know that it’s not legal to ride a jet ski at night in most states. Typically, you’re allowed to ride your jet ski until sunset, but the exact time may vary from state to state.

On the other hand, you may find a few states where it’s completely legal! Because of this, it’s essential you check the applicable laws and regulations in your state before you hit the water.

Also, the laws in other countries around the world could be completely different, but it’s a fact that there are several countries where riding a jet ski at night is legal!

Cases Where you Have to Operate a Jet Ski at Night

Even it’s prohibited by law, you may find yourself in a situation where you have to ride your jet ski in the dark.

This can happen if you get lost due to poor navigation or in case you miscalculate the time of return. Having too much fun on your jet ski often leads to losing your sense of time!

If you prefer longer trips or even jet ski fishing, you probably ride long distances, so you have a higher chance to be stuck out on the water after sunset.

Another problem could be when the weather is changing suddenly. In a heavy storm, this doesn’t just mean worse visibility, but it also affects the amount of time it takes to get home.

It’s also good to know that choppy water and wind can increase your fuel consumption, so it’s always important to use the 1/3-1/3 rule when calculating your jet ski’s gas mileage!

Even though it’s not recommended you ride a jet ski at night, there are some cases when it’s unavoidable. For these cases, it’s wise to be prepared for how to ride properly in the dark!

Tips for Riding a Jet Ski at Night

  • Be prepared: To avoid issues like being stuck out on the water after sunset, it’s highly recommended you plan your trip very carefully, and also keep your eye on the weather forecast and (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) NOAA reports as well!

  • Be visible: If it’s legal in your state to operate a jet ski at night, you probably have to equip it with proper navigation lighting so that it complies with the law.

    Can you put running lights on a jet ski? Aside from these navigation lights, it never hurts to keep a flashlight or a headlight onboard. You can make good use of them if you’re stuck out on the water in the dark. But keep in mind that a flashlight or headlight doesn’t replace the navigation lights on a jet ski!

  • Ride at low speeds:  If you need to ride a jet ski in the dark, it’s essential to not to ride at high speed. There may be debris or logs in the water in front of you which can cause a lot of damage to the jet ski’s hull. In the worst case scenario, it may start to sink!

    What’s more, in some states, there are nighttime speed limits for night hours on the water. Again, don’t forget to check the local rules and regulations before you hit the water!

  • Listen to your surroundings:  If your vision is limited, your ears can help you out a lot. This means no speakers, phones or other distracting sounds during night rides! Also, pay close attention to boat engines, bells, horns, and many other sounds caused by vessels around you.

  • Look for other vessels’ navigation lights: If the sky is completely dark, you’ll only see only other vessel’s navigation lights. Because of this, it’s essential to recognize these lights and the rules on the water. Therefore, even if your state doesn’t require it, it’s highly recommended you get a jet ski license.
  • Safety gear: Can you make a jet ski legal at night?  The answer is yes, but you will need to keep safety gear onboard during your jet ski night rides. The list of this gear may vary from state to state, beyond the safety accessories required by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) of course!

The Risks of Riding a Jet Ski in the Dark

As we’ve mentioned, jet skiing at night is definitely dangerous and it’s not worth the risks in most cases. Are you curious about what these risks are? Let’s check them one by one!

  • Poor visibility: The main risks at night are obviously poor visibility. You can’t see the what’s in the water, what’s in front of you, and you have a higher risk of running into a log which can damage your hull, or into debris that your impeller can suck into your jet ski’s pump. These issues could be a hassle even in the daytime, but if your jet ski needs to be towed back to the marina at night, that could be really tricky and dangerous!

  • Other vessels: Debris and logs are still the smallest problems. Other vessels, especially huge boats and ships, represent the greatest threat to any jet ski rider, and when it’s dark they can’t see you at all! What’s more, many vessels’ navigation lights are not too bright. It means you can only see them when they are really close!

  • Accidents: Even if you don’t collide with other vessels or objects, you still have risks of getting injured on a jet ski. Just think about it; due to poor visibility, it would be much harder to rescue you!

  • Harder to launch: Surprisingly, many smaller accidents happen during launching and retrieving jet skis. These tasks can be tricky even in good visibility. When you ride at night, you have a much higher chance of damagong the jet ski or injuring yourself! The only good part about nighttime launching is that you don’t have to wait for the boat ramp!
  • Be fined: If jet ski rides at night are prohibited in your state, you should arrive back to the dock within the legal time frame. If you don’t, you risk a fine from the USCG. Another issue is that you could be riding legally in the dark in your state, but your jet ski lacks the required legal accessories. In this case, you can also expect a ticket!


So is it legal to drive a jet ski at night?

In the U.S., it’s illegal to ride jet skis after sunset in most states. However, each state varies on the exact time, which is why you should reach out to your local or state law enforcement to learn more. In case nighttime jet ski rides are legal in your state, you have to equip your jet ski with some extra accessories and lights to meet the legal requirements.

Also keep in mind, even if it’s legal, it doesn’t mean it’s safe as well! As you see, there are several risks when riding a jet ski at night. So always be prepared, know the laws and consider obtaining a boating safety course.Safety first!

Riding a jet ski after sunset could be dangerous!