Did you know that it is illegal to play chicken (swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision) while riding a PWC? Did you know that it is a second degree misdemeanor for a person to knowingly allow a person under 14 years of age to operate a PWC? Personal watercraft (PWC), also known as Jet Skis, Wave Runners or Sea-Doos are extremely popular in Florida. PWCs are small, fast, generally easy to maneuver and do not have external propellers making them safer for swimmers. While a PWC may look and feel like a toy, it is actually considered a vessel and is governed by the 2011 Florida Statutes. Each year, our firm handles several cases involving serious injuries from PWC accidents. Many of these accidents were the result of reckless driving or driver inexperience and unknowingly many laws were broken at the time of the accident. If you or a loved one operates a PWC be sure to follow these guidelines. It’s the LAW.
- Anyone under the age of 22 (21 and under) is required to have a boating safety education ID card along with a photo ID while operating a vessel with 10 horsepower or greater in Florida waters.
- Everyone on board or being towed behind a PWC must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (PFD) at all times. Inflatable PFDs are not to be worn on personal watercraft.
- An operator of a PWC equipped with a lanyard-type ignition safety switch must attach the lanyard to his or her person, clothing, or PFD.
- PWCs may not be operated during the hours between one half-hour after sunset to one half-hour before sunrise. Due to navigation light requirements, PWCs without navigation lights may operate only between sunrise and sunset.
- No one under the age of 14 years may operate any PWC.
- No one under the age of 18 years may rent or lease a PWC.
- A PWC must be operated in a reasonable and prudent manner.
It is illegal to:
- Weave your PWC through congested waterway traffic.
- Swerve at the last possible moment in order to avoid collision (as in spraying another person or vessel, or playing “chicken”).
- Jump the wake of another vessel unreasonably or unnecessarily close to that vessel or when visibility is obstructed.
Be sure to know the law and take all safety precautions before you operate a PWC.
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