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Personal Watercraft (PWC) in Florida

PWC are considered vessels and must comply with all safety equipment such as visual distress signals, life jackets, navigation lights, and sound producing device.

In addition to the requirements previously stated applicable to all motorized vessels: 

  • Each person on a PWC or being towed by a PWC must wear a USCG approved PFD type I, II, III or V
  • Inflatable PFD are prohibited for personal watercraft use
  • The law requires anyone operating a PWC equipped with a lanyard cut-off switch to attach the lanyard to his or her person, clothing or life jacket. Operating a PWC equipped with a self-circling device is prohibited if the device has been altered
  • Maneuvering a PWC by weaving through congested vessel traffic, jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably close or when visibility around the vessel is obstructed, or swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision is classified as reckless operation of a vessel (a first-degree misdemeanor)
  • It is illegal for a person under the age of 14 to operate a PWC
  • A person must be at least 18 years old to rent a personal watercraft in Florida.
  • It is unlawful for a person to knowingly allow a person under 14 years old to operate a personal watercraft (a second-degree misdemeanor).
  • Personal watercraft may not be operated from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, even if the PWCE is equipped with navigation lights. Remember, both federal and state law requires the use of navigation lights during periods of inclement weather and periods of reduced visibility, including the ½ hour before sunrise and the ½ hour after sunset.
  • You may not carry more passengers than the number for which the craft was designed to carry by the manufacturer. When towing someone on a tube or on water skis, the PWC must have the appropriate capacity to accommodate the operator, the observer, and the person being towed.

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