Florida Boating Laws
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed December 05, 2016
Ahoy, matey! Florida has some of the finest waterways in the land. Whether you are going fishing or cruising along the St. Johns River with your friends, Florida is considered the boating capital of the United States with miles and miles of navigable waterways for you to explore. But when exploring these great bodies of water, Floridians must keep regulations in mind. Florida boating laws regulate a number of activities that deal with being on the water, including four keys areas: buying, registering, operating, and boating under the influence (BUI).
Vessel Titling and Registration
If you buy a boat and intend to operate it, you’ll have to meet both registration and titling requirements. In Florida, vessel registration is a system of record-keeping and identification for vessels that operate on the state’s waterways and is meant to protect vessel owners against theft and against irresponsible actions by other vessel operators. Titling is a computerized record-keeping system that provides ownership protection to vessel owners, going beyond the vessel registration system. You will find more information about both requirements in the box below.
Boating License Requirement
In addition to registering your seaworthy vessel, you’ll also need to have a license to operate it. Anyone born after January 1, 1988 who wants to operate a boat (including personal watercraft) with 10 horsepower or greater will have to get a Boating Safety Education ID Card. In order to get one, you’ll have to pass an approved safety course.
Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
Just as you wouldn’t drive under the influence on a public highway, you are also prohibited from operating a boat when you’ve had too much to drink or taken illegal substances. In Florida, you can be in violation of the law if you operate your fishing boat, sailboat, yacht, personal watercraft, and your blood alcohol level is 0.08 percent or higher.
Florida Boating Laws: The Basics
Specific details about Florida boating laws, including relevant statutes, registration requirements and more are listed in the following table.
Buying a Boat
Vessels Exempt from Registration or Title
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Find Out More about Florida Boating Laws
Applying for a boating license and understanding the rules of the waterways can be confusing. You may have additional questions about operating your seaworthy vessel or how to respond to an alleged boating violation. You will want to consult with a Florida boating attorney in your area to get your specific questions answered today.
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