As with laws governing many other things, every state is able to identify it's laws and guidelines for who is required to obtain a license in order to operate a boat or watercraft. While some states in the nation make a boating license mandatory for every operator of even personal boats used for recreational purposes, New York does not according to the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
However, people who want to operate commercial crafts must be licensed. This licensing is required for operators of everything from tug boats to ferries, charter fishing boats to sightseeing vessels and more. Even a person who drives a personal boat in exchange for some type of compensation on select bodies of water may need to have a special license called a public vessel operator license. Only people who are legal adults are allowed to hold a public vessel operator license.
There are regulations and requirements that go along with holding any type of boating license just like with a driver's license. One of these is the obligation to operate a vessel safely and an integral element to this is to never operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In late 2016, New York enacted a new law related to the state's impaired boating laws. The New York State Senate explains that this law ensures prior drunk driving convictions are considered for people people charged with boating while intoxicated. This was not the case before Tiffany Heitkamp's Law was passed.