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Boat engine cutoff switch law takes effect April 1

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has advised boaters that an engine cutoff switch law goes into effect on April 1.

According to DWR, boat operators are required to use an engine cutoff switch while using boats less than 26 feet on tidal waters. The law applies to boats operating on plane or above displacement speed.

Engine cutoff devices can be located at the helm of the boat or on the tiller or body of an outboard engine, and typically connect a boat’s operator to the cutoff switch with a lanyard, DWR said. Some cutoff devices eliminate the lanyard and rely on wireless proximity devices to shut down an engine if the operator goes overboard.

The new requirement is part of the Jan. 1, 2021 National Defense Authorization Acts that included a U.S. Coast Guard Reauthorization, and it will be enforced by the Coast Guard, DWR said.

These vessels include boats that have a functioning engine cutoff device installed at the helm or on an outboard engine or have wireless...

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