During What Time is it Legal to Tow a Person Behind a Boat?

Simple answer: it really depends on where you live.

To help illustrate what we mean, take a look at the below map. Each state has different guidelines for its citizens. Most of the United States uses sunlight as a measure and thus uses the sunrise to sunset and sunset terms in their laws. This makes sense as the sunlight on the longest day of the year, June 21st, will have many hours more of sunlight than days in the spring or the fall.

Nebraska, Nevada, and Massachusetts, just use the arbitrary term “Nighttime” to disclose when they want people to stop towing. A few states, Minnesota, Iowa, and Rhode Island all allow towing from sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. The rest of the states are a little more liberal with their timings and give additional time before sunrise and after sunset, but the most allowing are Alaska and Mississippi which don’t have restrictions.

Take a peek at our infographic below:

Thank you to Paint Maps for the help with the map!

Are there any caveats as to when you can tow?

Like any data set, there are some outliers and things the viewer needs to take into consideration. The data set we built the map on is no exception. Below we go into detail on some of the weird laws that are in effect for a few states.


Nevada, Nebraska, and Massachusetts all list “nighttime” as when you need to stop surfing. Unfortunately, that can be misconstrued since “nighttime” might mean different things to different people. If you live in these states, we would recommend following the same “sunrise to sunset” rules as many of the others.


Although Connecticut has a law that outlaws towing from 30 minutes after sunset until sunrise. It also has an additional stipulation. Towing someone is also outlawed when visibility is restricted to less than 100 yards.

Alaska and Mississippi

Alaska and Mississippi have no restrictions on when you can tow someone behind your boat, but Mississippi strongly advises you to surf during daylight hours. We agree with that advice.

Michigan and Viriginia

The times change when you live in Michigan and Virginia depending on what you are towing with. When towing with a boat, you can tow from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. For PWC’s, that timeline is between 8:00 a.m. and one hour before sunset.


Hopefully, this guide makes understanding the timetable for which you can surf, wakeboard, ski, and tube a little easier. If you are looking for the source for each state, check out our other blog that lists each state out and where the information is located online.

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