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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Float trips are a great way to unwind and have some fun with friends and family during the dog days of summer. Like anything though, there are a bunch of laws that could bring down the mood should you be caught.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol wants recreation lovers to know a few things before entering the water. For one, no beer bongs. That includes “modified containers with additional vents” – AKA: shotgunning a beer.

But the laws don’t stop at alcohol. State rules cover safety, indecent exposure, snacks, trash, drugs and trespassing. Here’s everything you need to know:


Beer bongs are illegal. This includes “any device that is intended and designed for the rapid consumption or intake of an alcoholic beverage, including but not limited to funnels, tubes, hoses, and modified containers with additional vents.”

People on Missouri’s rivers also can’t have any large-volume alcohol containers on them. This means nothing that carries more than four gallons, so floating keggers are out.

More traditional alcohol laws apply too, like no underage drinking or alcohol possession, and no providing alcohol to minors. Those under 21 years old must have a blood alcohol content less than .02%.

Snacks and trash

It’s smart to refuel mid-trip with energy-rich snacks, but how you pack the snack and what you do with the trash is subject to Missouri state laws.

First, glass containers are not allowed for drinks.

Next, anyone using a container, like a cooler, must make sure it fully seals. They also must connect a closeable trash container to the watercraft, transport any trash to a proper bin or dumpster and secure any other glass containers to prevent falling in or breaking.

State law makes littering a crime. Breaking any of these rules would make a person guilty of a misdemeanor.


Anyone younger than seven years old must wear a life jacket. Anyone operating a watercraft is also responsible to make sure there are life jackets available and accessible for everyone on board.


MSHP states that sexual misconduct is not allowed on Missouri waterways. This includes exposing oneself or violating state sexual misconduct laws.

Some more serious violations of these laws could be considered a felony.


Don’t trespass. It’s up to river users to know which land is state property and which belongs to private land owners. Penalties vary, depending on if the land owner displayed notification.


Don’t do drugs. MSHP “has a zero tolerance approach to illegal drug use,” including on Missouri waterways. A person cannot have a controlled substance unless allowed by law. People also cannot have drug paraphernalia with the intent to use it.

Punishments range from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the violation.