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Reckless or Careless Operation of a Vessel in Florida

It may be considered to be reckless boating if the operator of a pleasure craft fails to exercise the degree of care that is necessary to prevent endangering persons or property.

Anyone who operates a vessel with willful disregard for the safety of persons or property will be cited for reckless operation (a first-degree misdemeanor).

All operators are responsible for operating their vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner with regard to other vessel traffic, posted restrictions, the presence of a divers-down flag and other circumstances so as not to endanger people or property. Failure to do so is considered careless operation (a non-criminal infraction). 

A violation of the Federal Navigation Rules is also a violation of Florida law.

Example of reckless operation 

  • Riding on the bow, gunwale or transom of a boat while it is underway.
  • Operating a vessel, skis or any other apparatus between a vessel that is towing and the vessel(s) it is towing.
  • Navigating while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
  • Jumping the wake of another vessel less than 100 feet from that vessel.
  • Driving your boat at such a speed and so close to another vessel that one or both operators must swerve at the last minute to avoid collision.

Except in the event of an emergency, it is unlawful to moor or fasten to any lawfully placed navigation aid or regulatory maker.

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