Penalties for boating offences on NSW waterways

These are the penalties that apply to the most common offences related to boating in NSW.

Penalty notices

If an offence such as speeding is committed, authorised officers (Transport for NSW or NSW Police) may issue a penalty notice, which you must pay within a given period.

Impounding

If a person operates a vessel in a manner which menaces another person, or is used in a reckless or dangerous manner they may also be considered to be using it to behave in serious anti-social activity. A vessel used in an anti-social manner may be seized and impounded for a period of three months. The owner may have to pay costs associated with seizing and storing the vessel before it can be returned.

The vessel may be impounded regardless of who was operating the vessel at the time. It is the onus of the vessel owner to ensure that their vessel is being operated correctly, even when they are not using it.

Forfeiture

If a vessel is used in an identified anti-social manner for a second or subsequent time within a 5-year period, the vessel may be forfeited. The vessel can be seized and forfeited on the second anti-social offence even if the two offences were committed by different operators and neither one was the owner.

Penalties

The tables below show examples of the most common offences. They are not exhaustive and therefore do not cover each and every possible offence. These penalties are the on-the-spot penalties, and can be considerably higher if dealt with by a court.

Speeding and other regulatory offences

OffencePenalty notice amount
Disobeying speed sign by <10 knots (vessel)$100
Disobeying speed sign by <10 knots (PWC)$250
Disobeying speed sign by >10 knots (vessel)$250
Disobeying speed sign by >10 knots (PWC)$500
Disobeying ‘no wash’ sign$500
Disobeying other Transport signs$250
Breaching part B or C of the collision regulations (eg. failure to keep proper lookout, maintain safe speed or display navigation lights)$250

Vessel handling and management

OffencePenalty notice amount
Operating a vessel negligently or recklessly$500 (recreational)
$1500 (commercial vessel)
Operating a vessel recklessly or in a speed or manner that is dangerousCourt attendance notice only
Operating a vessel in a manner that menaces another personCourt attendance notice only
Interference with or obstruction of a navigation aid$500
Letting off flares when not in distress$500
Bow riding$250
Causing excessive wash (other than in no wash zone)$250
Breaching ‘distance off’ provisions (vessel) – including towing$100
Breaching ‘distance off’ provisions (PWC) – including towing$250
Overloading a vessel (weight)$500
Overloading a vessel (number of persons)$500
Driving PWC irregularly (in restriction zone or within 200m of dwelling)$250
Obstructing a channel or fairway$250

Licences

OffencePenalty notice amount
Breaching a condition of licence$100
Operate an unregistered vessel$500
Driving a vessel (not PWC)>10 knots unlicensed$250
Driving a PWC unlicensed (1st offence)$500 + disqualification of any boat licence
Drive a PWC unlicensed (2nd or subsequent offence)$750 + disqualification of any boat licence
Driving while disqualifiedCourt attendance notice only
Failure to notify Transport for NSW of vessel/PWC transfer$100
Not displaying proper registration number$100

Obligations to authority (Transport for NSW officer, Harbour master (or delegate) or NSW Police)

OffencePenalty notice amount
Failure to produce licence on demand$500
Refusal to allow officer to stop or board vessel when directed$500
Failure to stop vessel when patrol vessel lights activated$500
Refusal to identify self$500
Failure to report accident to Maritime$500
Not complying with safety direction$500

Towing offences

OffencePenalty notice amount
Towing a person at night$250
Towing a person without proper observer (vessel)$250
Towing more than three people at a time$250
Towing a person without a proper observer (PWC)$500

Safety equipment

OffencePenalty notice amount
Failure to carry one item of essential safety equipment (other than a lifejacket)$100
Failure to carry a lifejacket or more than one item of essential safety equipment$250
One item of safety equipment expired or in poor condition (other than a lifejacket)$100
More than one item of safety equipment or a lifejacket expired or in poor condition$250
Not wearing a lifejacket when crossing bar (or master to ensure)$250
Not wearing a lifejacket on PWC$250
Not wearing a lifejacket in other required circumstances of heightened risk (eg night, open or alpine waters, children, boating alone)$250

Other common offences

OffencePenalty notice amount
Polluting waters$7500 (individual)
$15000 (company)
Depositing litter$200 (individual)
$500 (corporation)
Offensive noise (improper use of siren/bell/whistle)$300
Offensive noise (sound system on vessel)$300
Offensive noise (engine noise)$300
Breach of mooring licence condition (eg not servicing apparatus)$500 + possible cancellation of licence
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