When the weather heats up, Floridians hit the water to cool down and spend quality time with family. Whether you prefer the ocean, freshwater lakes, springs or rivers – Florida has an abundant supply for a splish-splash of a good time. With the summer season in high swing, we’ve got tons of long hours of sun-filled days ahead of us. It’s the perfect time to pick your favorite body of water and set out for a day on the boat.
However, boating in Florida can also present hazards that end in personal injuries, as well as violations of boating regulations that could have legal consequences – all of which ruins a good time out on the water. Patton Law, P.A. wants to help you prepare for summer fun and avoid unnecessary dangers, so part two of our summer safety tips series has some helpful hints on how to keep yourself safe from boating hazards and not risk legal ramifications.
1.Education is Key! Take a Boater Safety Course
Many first-time boaters take for granted how serious it is to operate a boat, and how quickly dangers can pop up. It’s so serious that Florida now requires anyone operating a boat, with a motor of 10 or more horsepower and who was born after January 1, 1988, to take a state-approved boating safety course and hold a valid Boating Safety Education ID Card. Even if you miss the age requirement, it’s a great idea to take the course anyway so that you operate safely out on the water.
2.Equip Your Vessel
Florida also requires that boaters have at a minimum a standard supply of safety equipment on board and in good working order. The list for most recreational boats includes but is not limited to, personal flotation devices (one for each person on the boat at any given time and they must be US Coast Guard/USCG approved), a working USCG-approved fire extinguisher, some sort of device to make noise so that other vessels who may not see you at first will hear you (a horn or loud whistle), adequate lighting, and more. For a complete list, click here.
Most boating accidents happen because the driver of the boat simply isn’t paying attention. Just like texting while driving a vehicle is a bad idea, texting and operating a boat is a terrible idea that leads to accidents. Make sure that you secure items in your boat before taking off, and also ensure that all passengers are safely seated. These precautions can eliminate unnecessary distractions for boat drivers.
4.Refrain from Alcohol
While it’s not illegal to have open containers of alcohol on a boat while you’re using it, it is against the law for the operator of the boat to have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. Since alcohol is one of the leading causes of boating accidents and even fatal injuries, it is not taken lightly if you are found operating a boat while under the influence. If you are caught, it can mean heavy fines and even jail time. Even worse, it could end in a serious injury. If you do get charged with boating under the influence, Patton Law is here to help – contact us for more information.
5.Be Courteous & Exercise Good Judgement
Boaters are typically courteous folks looking to have a great day on the water. Be kind and polite – look out for fellow boaters’ interests and follow all posted regulations. This may seem simple, but it’s often that following the easy reminders saves us a world of trouble.
If you have a legal concern regarding a boating incident or accident, Patton Law, P.A. is here to help with any questions or concerns you may have. Please give us a call for a free consultation to discuss your legal needs. We are conveniently located in South Lakeland, a short drive from Winter Haven, Bartow or Tampa.
We hope your summer 2018 is one to remember – not because of a boating incident, but because you had such an amazing time enjoying the great outdoors. From all of us at Patton Law, P.A., be safe and have a great summer!
Contact Patton Law, P.A. to Schedule a Free Initial Consultation