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Guide to Florida Boating Laws

Posted By Legal Team | July 11 2022 | Boat Accidents

Florida is one of the most popular boating states in the country, for both locals and visitors. However, individuals need to be well aware of Florida’s boating laws before they head out on the water.

Registering a Boat in Florida

Any water vessel powered with an engine must be registered through the local tax collector’s office. The certificate of registration must be on board the vessel at all times for inspection by law enforcement officers upon request. 

Any boat must be registered and numbered within 30 days of purchase, and the registration numbers should be displayed on the forward half of the vessel on both sides and above the water line. Registration letters must be separated by registration numbers on the boat by a hyphen or a space equal to letter width.

The vessel registration decal should be renewed annually and displayed within six inches either before or after the registration number on the left side of the boat.

Age and Operator Restrictions

Nobody under the age of 14 is allowed to operate a personal watercraft on Florida waterways, even if they possess a Boater Safety Education ID card.

Personal Flotation Devices (Life Jackets)

The state of Florida requires that there be a personal flotation device (PFD) for every individual on board. This includes a wearable Type I, II, III, or V.

Every person operating or riding on a personal watercraft (jet ski or other small vessel) or being towed behind a personal watercraft is required to wear an approved non-inflatable wearable personal flotation device.

Florida Boating Accidents

Anytime there is a boating accident where there is an injury not treatable beyond immediate first aid, a fatality, or disappearance of any person that could indicate death or injury, it must be reported by the quickest means possible to the closest law enforcement agency available. 

Additionally, if an accident results in personal property destruction of at least $2,000, the incident must be reported to law enforcement officials.

It is unlawful for any individual operating a watercraft in Florida to leave the scene of an accident without giving all possible aid to others involved and without reporting the incident to proper authorities.

Boating Under the Influence

It is a violation of Florida law to operate any type of water vessel while impaired by alcohol or other types of drugs. The legal blood alcohol concentration limit for operating a boat is .08%, the same as it is for a motor vehicle. Additionally, any person under the age of 21 found to have a blood alcohol concentration level of .02% or higher while operating a water vessel will be in violation of Florida law. 

Water Skiing Regulations

Individuals operating a vessel while towing someone on skis or any other similar type of device must have an observer in addition to the operator on board who is paying attention to the actions of the skier. No one is allowed to use water skis or other types of devices other similar nature between the hours of 1/2 hour past sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise. All individuals on water skis must have an approved non-inflatable wearable PFD on their person. No one is allowed to water ski while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

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