Florida is an extremely popular boating destination for residents and tourists, alike. The reasons for boating popularity are obvious: Florida has miles of pristine coastline, warm waters, tropical climates, island destinations, fishing, snorkeling and swimming opportunities – and let’s not forget about the Everglades. The range of boating options is endless for boaters of all interests and abilities. However, these boating activities can also lead to injuries on the open water. For this reason, boaters should be aware of current Florida safety laws in order to protect themselves as well as their passengers.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has established boating laws for all boaters who venture out into Florida waters. Before heading out on the water this summer, you should familiarize yourself with some of the most important rules and regulations.
Important Rules and Regulations
For starters, Florida boaters should be aware that they are subject to specific laws that may not be in effect in other states. For example, with the exception of kayaks and canoes (non-motorized crafts), Florida law requires all boats to be registered. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has specific instructions for registering your boat, which can be found on its website.
Boating accidents are also subject to specific laws. If a boating accident results in personal injury or property damage exceeding $2,000, the incident must be reported to the police or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Additionally, like car accidents, it is unlawful to leave the scene of any boating accident without providing first aid to injured persons.
One of the biggest safety hazards facing Florida boaters is accidents resulting from boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Florida law explicitly prohibits the use of drugs or alcohol while boating. Any boat operator can be stopped by law enforcement and subjected to sobriety and/or chemical tests if suspected of boating under the influence. If you have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher you will be arrested for driving (a boat) under the influence (DUI).
Finally, Florida recently established certain requirements for young boaters. Individuals born after January 1, 1988, who wish to operate a boat with ten horsepower or higher must take a boater safety course. You must pass all required tests in order to receive a proper boating safety education identification card, which you should carry with you while boating. There are few exceptions to the safety course requirement. If you are unsure of whether you must obtain a safety education identification card, you should check with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to ensure you have obtained the proper certification(s).
Florida boating laws are designed to keep everyone safe on Florida waters. As the boater, it is your responsibility to know the laws and abide by them.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, you need a qualified personal injury attorney who knows the law. Board Certified Personal Injury attorney Bryan Caulfield has experience with boating accident litigation and is here to help you. Contact Bryan Caulfield today.