HELENA - A bill aims to simplify the laws regarding how young kids can be to drive a boat.

Senate Bill 259 says minors under 18 can't operate a boat unless they are accompanied by an adult, certified in boat safety or have a motor vehicle driver's license.

Currently the law states that someone 13 or 14 may operate a boat alone if they possess a safety certificate or have completed the Montana approved water safety course. This bill will change that age to simply 13.

The new requirements for testing will include a home study program and an online exam.

Experts say this bill doesn’t change a lot, but it does clarify a few things.

“I don’t know if it’s necessarily going to make it safer, but it will be a change where if you're under 18 and going to operate a boat alone you do have to take a safety course,” said Tom Rispens, owner of Montana Boat Center.

Rispens has teenage kids of his own and says after they received their safety certificate, it was a good opportunity to talk to them about what is safe.

Rispens also said that he doesn’t think this bill will change the boating experience but is trying to make sure that people who are driving are capable.

This bill has passed the Senate and will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday morning.

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