Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 5. Boats


23-2-521. Equipment. (1) Every motorboat or vessel must have aboard:

(a) one personal flotation device that is approved by the United States coast guard and that is in good and serviceable condition for each person on board, provided that a person who has not reached 12 years of age must have a life preserver that is approved by the United States coast guard and that is properly fastened to the person when occupying a motorboat or vessel under 26 feet in length while the motorboat or vessel is in motion;

(b) if carrying or using an inflammable or toxic fluid in an enclosure for any purpose and if the motorboat or vessel is not an entirely open one, an efficient natural or mechanical ventilation system prescribed by the department that must be used and be capable of removing resulting gases prior to and during the time the motorboat or vessel is occupied by a person;

(c) hand portable fire extinguishers approved by the United States coast guard, the number of which is to be determined by the department, or a fixed fire extinguishing system that is approved by the United States coast guard, except that motorboats less than 26 feet in length of entirely open construction, propelled by outboard motors, and not carrying passengers for hire need not carry the portable fire extinguishers or fire extinguishing systems.

(2) The carburetor or carburetors of each of the engines of a motorboat or vessel (except outboard motors) that use gasoline as fuel must be equipped with an efficient flame arrester, backfire trap, or other similar device.

(3) (a) Except as provided in subsection (3)(b), the exhaust of an internal combustion engine used on a motorboat or vessel must be muffled either by discharge underwater or by a functioning muffler capable of muffling exhaust noise to 90 dbA or less when measured at a distance of 1 meter from the muffler at idle speed in accordance with the stationary sound level measurement procedure for pleasure motorboats (SAE J2005). The muffler may not be modified or altered, such as by a cutout. The department may require a test at dockside to determine exhaust noise level.

(b) The provisions of subsection (3)(a) do not apply to a motorboat or vessel:

(i) competing in a state-sanctioned regatta or boat race while on trial runs between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and during a period not more than 48 hours immediately preceding the regatta or boat race;

(ii) operating under a separate permit issued by the department for the purpose of tuning engines, making test or trial runs, or competing in official trials for speed records other than in connection with regattas or boat races; or

(iii) operated by an authorized agent of federal, state, or local government to carry out the duty of enforcement, search and rescue, firefighting, or research.

(4) (a) Except as provided in subsection (4)(b), a vessel may not be equipped with a siren, and a person may not use or install a siren on a vessel.

(b) An authorized emergency vessel may be equipped with a siren capable of sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of not less than 500 feet, but the siren may be used only when the vessel is operated in response to an emergency call or in the immediate pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law, and the operator of the vessel shall sound the siren when necessary to warn persons of the vessel's approach.

(5) When in operation or at anchor or moored away from a docking facility between sunset and sunrise, all vessels must display lights as prescribed by the department.

(6) The department may designate waters where and the time of year on these waters when all persons aboard a motorboat or vessel shall wear approved life preservers at all times.

(7) Vessels, including houseboats and floating cabins, equipped with a galley or toilet must have a wastewater holding system sealed to prevent the discharge of water-carried waste products, whether treated or untreated, into the surrounding waters.

(8) The department may adopt rules modifying the equipment requirements contained in this section to the extent necessary to keep these requirements in conformity with the provisions of the federal navigation and safety laws or with the navigation and safety rules promulgated by the United States coast guard.

(9) A person may not operate or give permission for the operation of a vessel that is not equipped as required by this section.

History: En. Sec. 5, Ch. 285, L. 1959; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 138, L. 1961; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 230, L. 1963; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 169, L. 1965; amd. Sec. 52, Ch. 511, L. 1973; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 514, L. 1973; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 305, L. 1975; amd. Sec. 8, Ch. 124, L. 1977; amd. Sec. 13, Ch. 417, L. 1977; R.C.M. 1947, 69-3505; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 348, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 728, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 38, Ch. 130, L. 2005.