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Boating Laws in Florida: The Basics

Boating Laws in Florida: The Basics

A violation of the Federal Navigation Rules is also a violation of Florida law. So just to be safe, here are the basics of Florida Boating Law…

Anyone born after January 1, 1998, must pass an approved boater safety course and carry that card plus a photo ID when operating a boat. If not, you could be fined. Exemptions to this include those who are:

  • Licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a master of a vessel
  • Operating on a private lake or pond
  • Operating a vessel within 90 days of purchase if bill of sale is on board
  • Accompanied by a person who is 18 or older and in possession of an approved boater safety course card and a photo ID and is willing to accept responsibility for any violation that occurs
  • A non-resident who is carrying an approved boater safety course card from another state

Reckless or careless operation of a boat is a first degree misdemeanor. Boaters are also responsible to follow all posted restrictions and to keep the proper safety gear on board, including a personal flotation device (PFD) for each person on board. Children under six must wear them; and a throw able flotation device is required for boats 16 feet and larger. Vessels with built-in fuel tanks must have at least one fire extinguisher on board; and different distress signals are required for boats of varying sizes. The use of sirens or flashing lights is prohibited, but navigational lights must be displayed between sunset and sunrise, as well as during periods with reduced visibility, like when it is foggy. It is also unlawful to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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