As you can see by my number of posts I'm a "lurker", call it a character flaw, but after consuming this thread I felt obligated to post my philosophy on this matter...
@Heath simply wanted to know what the law states on PFD's and their wear, as we all know Google can help with that via the DMF website not going to get into that with my post, you could also contact the wildlife commission and speak to one of their employees. Keep in mind that whoever you speak with likely isn't going to be the LE officer that is interpreting the law and writing the citation so whatever they tell you should be compared with what is actually in black n white; the officer will undoubtedly apply their "interpretation" of the law.
Now for my philosophy (please keep reading)...if you are on the water then you wear a PFD, end of discussion. No they are not comfortable, they don't look sexy, they absolutely get in the way when trying to take a picture of that redfish that's so big it won't fit on your lap, they cost money that you could otherwise spend on more lures and/or yak accessories, and they're very hot during the summer months (file that under "they are not comfortable")...BUT THEY SAVE LIVES!!! I'm not a believer in vehicle "accidents", they are truly vehicle operating "mistakes", accidents are an unfortunate event that is typically unavoidable most "accidents" could have been avoided with proper planning/preparedness/training. Likewise, drownings can also be mitigated by proper preparedness through wearing a PFD. In the day and age in which we live folks are driving while texting/talking on a cell phone thus increasing the amount of work EMTs and emergency rooms must do, people drink n drive, use illegal substances as well as prescription meds that often impair their ability to "operate machinery" safely...and they don't think twice about it. If you think they are only doing this on the roads then you are wrongfully mistaken, hundreds of "accidents" occur every year across the U.S. on our waterways and few of them are truly "accidents"...there are some folks on this forum that have experienced them 1st hand. I'm married and have kids and thus have a rather large obligation to return to them in one piece at the end of my waterborne excursions. Maybe you're not married, but I'm sure you have loved ones that depend on you for something or close friends that don't think attending a funeral is in the "something cool to do over the weekend" category. Not wearing a PFD is a mistake, a very big mistake and with enough opportunity Mr Murphy will undoubtedly pay a visit. I could speak all day about safety and the difference in being "risk aware" vs. "risk averse" but at the end of the day it is an individual decision, one that you may not have the opportunity to make again if you don't make the right choice from the start. If you decide not a wear one then sure, you may get a ticket from an LE officer but is that really the worse that could happen?
I posted this simply in hopes that maybe, just maybe it convinces even one more reader to wear their PFD. Please don't think I'm a safety guru, but having lived a career in a moderately high risk environment I am convinced that we each need to control what we can because there are enough bad things totally out of our control.
I'm sure someone will have that DMF Google post shortly...