Under 35 and riding a jet ski? Know the law or you could be in legal trouble

(WXYZ) - As many get ready to take one last summer vacation this Labor Day weekend, one man has a warning for you. 

He says he found out the hard way that if you are under 35 and use a jet ski, you likely need a certain piece of paperwork. If you don’t, you could get yourself and that jet ski’s owner in legal trouble.

Daryl Simpson of Genesee County has been ordered to appear at court in Huron County Wednesday.  The reason?  He was cited for allowing his 31-year-old friend to ride his personal motorized watercraft on Lake Huron by a Huron County Sheriff’s patrol.  He had just bought the Jet Ski days earlier, and learned when stopped by a marine patrol that if you are born after December 31, 1978, you need a boating safety certificate to drive legally in Michigan.

“I had no idea,” said Simpson.

He said he was told he couldn’t just pay a fine and move on.  He has to take time off from work to be arraigned.  His alleged crime is a misdemeanor.

“I am facing possible jail time and fines,” said Simpson. 

Simpson says almost everyone he talks to is surprised by the law. Many have gone out on Jet Skis many times without a certificate. They had no idea they committed a crime. He wants to get out the word to prevent them from such troubles.

7 Action News made calls to several law enforcement agencies with marine divisions. Most give warnings for such a violation. The Huron County Sheriff’s Office says this year it has ticketed people for such a crime on only three occasions.

Simpson and his friend who co-owns the watercraft say they would like the state to do more to get out the word. 

‘I want to know why they don’t tell you when you register your jet ski at the Secretary of State?” asked Jonathan VanDusen, who as co-owner also got a ticket. 

The Secretary of State’s office says it doesn’t notify people of this law when they register personal motorized water crafts.  It is the individual’s responsibility to know the law.

You can read more about the law by clicking here.

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