N.H. suspends online boater exams


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Widespread cheating has prompted officials to end online exams for those seeking a state boating education certificate.

A state law being phased in over several years requires boaters to obtain state-approved certification to operate any type of power boat in excess of 25 horsepower on public waters. Since the law was passed in 2002, up to 80 percent of those seeking permits have taken the education course and exam online, but that system was suspended starting Monday.

While the online exam was convenient, officials reported rampant abuse by those taking the test open-book or having others take it for them.

Under the new system, boaters still can take a safe boating course online or through a home-study video course but must travel to one of several locations to take the exam. Traditional classes, often held at police stations, hospitals or libraries and lasting 31/2 hours, will continue to be offered.

The online course also can be completed within a matter of hours, said Betsy O’Connor, a program specialist for the boating education program.

“It doesn’t take very long to go through the process. They have designed an animated course and it’s going to be very user-friendly. They will print out a receipt and then they can select a location and come in for a proctored exam and take the test,” said O’Connor.

O’Connor said traffic was high on the Web site in the last few days exams were given online.

“People are definitely trying to get their testing in,” she said last week.

Those who took the exam online before Jan. 1 do not need to take it again. The state boating certificate is a once-in-a-lifetime requirement that requires no further testing once a certificate is achieved.