The waters of Florida are both a national and international resource alike, and recreational boating on these waters contributes to the well-being of both residents and visitors. As a result, boating laws are in place to protect the safety, aesthetics, and future of Florida’s waterways.
Florida law enforcement officers and Florida Wildlife officials patrol the waterways daily to ensure safety and compliance with boating laws. It is important while boating to be aware of the laws regulating waterway use, and be informed of what your responsibilities are.
By law, all watercraft operators are responsible for operating their vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner with regard for other vessel traffic, posted restrictions, the presence of a divers-down flag, and other circumstances so as not to endanger people or property. Non-compliance with the safety rules of the waterways can result in both non-criminal and criminal violations.
In Florida, laws against boating while impaired by alcohol or other drugs are as strict as those for driving a vehicle while impaired. Florida law prohibits anyone from boating under the influence (BUI). That is, it is illegal to operate any vessel or to manipulate any water skis, sailboard, or similar device while intoxicated due to alcohol or any combination of alcohol, a controlled substance, or drugs.