New Tennessee Laws for Wake Boarders and Wake Surfers


Memorial Day weekend is upon us, which also means boating season is about to be in full swing.  For those of you who plan to hit the lakes and rivers this summer, read on for a reminder about important safety rules as well as a new law covering wake boarders and wake surfers.

Let’s start with the new law.  On March 28, 2022, Governor Lee signed a new Tennessee law provides as follows:

  • Wakeboarding and wakesurfing is prohibited before sunrise or after sunset. This provision was already in place for jet-skiers, skiers, etc.  The new law simply includes wakeboarders and wakesurfers in the prohibition.
  • Wakeboarding and wakesurfing is not permitted on any body of water less than fifty acres in size. For example, Whippoorwill Lake is 25 acres.  Goldeneye Lake is 13 acres.  Shellcracker Lake is 46 acres.  Wakeboarding and wakesurfing are strictly prohibited on these lakes and any others not more than 50 acres.
  • Wakeboarding and wakesurfing are no longer permitted in coves or any “portion of a body of water” with a width of less than 400 feet.
  • Wakeboarding and wakesurfing are not permitted with 200 feet of a “shoreline or a dock, pier, boathouse, or other structure located completely or partly on the water”.
  • Wakeboarders and wakesurfers must wear a personal flotation device approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Pursuant to T.C.A. 69-9-219, violation of the new law is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and up to a $50 fine and court costs.
  • The new law is effective July 1, 2022.

Presumably, as we have not seen the legislative history, the new law is designed to help protect the shorelines of Tennessee lakes and homeowners’ property from the high wakes created by wakeboats.  Wakeboats concern experts for other reasons as well.  High wakes, especially in smaller channels of water, can churn up sediment which can, in turn, stir up dormant nutrients which then promotes algae bloom and the growth of weeds.  High wakes can disturb wildlife close to shore.  High wakes in smaller channels can be dangerous for swimmers, especially inexperienced ones, and children.

Now, for all boaters, let’s refresh on the most basic of safety rules:

  1. Do not boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  2. Children 12 and under must wear a life jacket.
  3. All life jackets must be Coast Guard approved, in good condition and there must be one life jacket available and readily accessible for each passenger on a boat.
  4. For two reasons, the boat’s engine should be off before swimmers enter the water. First, an engaged propeller can cause catastrophic injuries if contacted by a swimmer.  Second, carbon monoxide poisoning is a very real risk for swimmers.
  5. Be sure to properly use your boat’s lights when operating at night.

If it has been a while since you have operated a boat, we encourage you to read The Tennessee Boating Handbook and refresh yourself on the safety laws.

The Day family loves to be on the water.  We know how much pleasure can be derived from a day on the lake but remember that safety on the water is paramount.  We wish everyone a safe Memorial Day weekend!




Contact Information