Do you Need a Boat License in Florida?
Operating a boat is a huge responsibility. Most tend to consider it easier than driving a car since you aren't dealing with the exorbitant traffic that you'll run into on city streets, but when on the water encountering other boaters is generally the least of your worries. There are plenty of other factors that require your attention. Weather, navigation, anchoring, and myriad other regulations are a constant worry for new boaters. But even if you're one hundred percent confident in your boating ability, do you still need a boat license in Florida?
The boating community is a large part of living in Florida. You're not really getting the full taste of a Florida lifestyle unless you're out on the water. If you want to venture out and taste that lifestyle for yourself the question still stands: Do you need a boat license in Florida? Today we will let you know exactly what you need to legally drive a boat in Florida in addition to the couple of exceptions that exist. Fortunately or unfortunately these age-based 'loopholes' aren't particularly exploitable, but it still never hurts to be aware of them!
Do You Need A Boat License In Florida?
Younger readers will definitely need certification to drive a boat in the state of Florida, and many other states as well but we will cover those as needed at a later date. In the state of Florida specifically, you will need a 'Boating Safety Education Identification Card' in order to pilot a vessel with more than ten horsepower. The one exception to this rule is if you were born before January 1, 1988. People 22 and older are free and clear. You'll also need to bring along at least one form of government approved photo ID. Not having either of these items will result in a fine from your friendly local law enforcement agency and that's never a fun thing to deal with.
Some people will tell you that age is just a number. Well a state-issued fine is also just a number, and usually a much bigger number than someone's age. If you are under 14 years old you will not be allowed to pilot any watercraft with more than ten horsepower, no matter how many boating education safety courses you have under your belt. Anyone under the age of 22 (21 and under) will need to carry the required documentation mentioned above. Once you reach the ripe old age of 22 you can pilot a watercraft, but it would be wise to take a boating safety course regardless. Read up more about why in our blog 'Is taking a boating safety course really beneficial?' and not to spoil the ending or anything, but the answer is unequivocally "YES"!
Where Do I Get A Boating Education Safety Card?
The Boating Education Safety Care is issues by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but luckily there aren't an excessive amount of bureaucratic hoops to jump through. This card can be issued by a wide variety of agencies both online and in person, provided that you've taken and passed the required classes. Since I prefer to do almost everything online, check out this quick and easy Florida Boating Safety Course! For a small fee you can attempt the exam as many times as needed. Once you have passed, print out your completion document and you're ready to hit the water!
Do I Need A License For Jetskis or Waverunners?
Well, we might be getting into semantics here but I know there's more than one person out there thinking that they can play the game better than local law enforcement. Don't try it. The legislation is written so that any watercraft with more than ten horsepower falls under the law and that definitely includes all sorts of personal watercraft. You won't be able to rent a PWC if you're under 18 years old and, as mentioned above, anyone under 14 years old is unable to operate it. Knowingly allowing underage operation of a personal watercraft is unlawful and will catch you a second-degree misdemeanor in no time flat.
General Health and Wellness Rules
Everyone should be wearing a personal flotation device, no matter what state or type of vessel you're in. Ensure you have a PFD for every passenger on board and even more importantly, make sure that they are worn at all times. It might feel uncomfortable at times, but I promise that a trip to the bottom of a lake or ocean is much more uncomfortable by comparison.
Try not to disrupt the local wildlife. Observe no-wake zones near shore to deter erosion. Avoid grass marshes that are home to many birds, snakes, frogs, turtles, and alligators. Stick to the main channel and stay out of shallow water as much as possible when tooling around the water. Wash your boat off to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species to other lakes and rivers. Make the job of washing a snap with instant boat hull cleaner to cut through grease, grime, and algae in a snap. Once you're done, dry it quicker and easier than ever before with our synthetic chamois dry towel.
Drive safely. The number of young bucks I've seen whipping their little Sea-Doo through boat congestion is significant. There's really no reason for it, and you're putting yourself and those around you in danger. On that same line of thought, don't even jump the wake of another watercraft if you're unreasonably close to it, that's an accident waiting to happen as well.
Some of these situations can get you slapped with reckless operation of a vessel, a first-degree misdemeanor. You should really be following these instructions as common sense, but seeing as it isn't quite as common as it once was I figured it was worth mentioning. If you won't do it for the health and safety of others, then do it for your bank account. If you thought the fine for underage operation was hefty, you ain't seen nothing yet!