Monday, October 25, 2021

Summer-long safe boating campaign



The Marco Island Police Department’s Marine Unit conducted a special education and safety project the past Memorial Day weekend to kickoff a summer-long safe boating campaign aimed at educating boaters about the required and suggested emergency equipment they should have on board their vessels, as well as emergency planning and operations.

A major element of the campaign is to stress the importance of personal floatation devices (PFD’s) or more popularly known as life jackets. Over Memorial Day weekend dozens of vessel safety checks were conducted. To encourage voluntarily compliance, MIPD’s Marine Unit partnered with our local McDonalds. McDonalds graciously provided gift cards for a free ice cream cone as an incentive for safe boating practices. Marco Officers conducted safety inspections and rewarded children that were wearing life jackets with the McDonalds ice cream cards. It is our hope that thirty smiling children now associate the fun of boating and ice cream with personal floatation devices and are on their way to McDonalds to claim their prize after their day of safe boating.

During the weekend, Officers noticed heavy vessel traffic on the water and expect this trend to continue throughout the summer.

Here are some additional safe boating tips:

Life Jackets (Personal Flotation Devices)?All recreational vessels must have at least one Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (life jacket) that is U.S. Coast Guard–approved and of the proper size for each person on board. ?In addition to the above requirement, vessels 16 feet in length or longer must have one Type IV (throwable) USCG–approved personal flotation device on board and immediately available. ?Children under 6 years of age must wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, or III PFD at all times while on any vessel less than 26 feet in length that is underway upon Florida waters. (“Underway” means any time except when the vessel is anchored, moored, docked, or aground.)?Vessels operating on waters outside the geographical boundaries of Florida (three miles or the edge of the Gulf Stream, whichever is greater, off the Atlantic coast or nine miles off the Gulf of Mexico coast) are subject to the new federal PFD regulation for children. On these waters, each child under 13 years of age who is on an underway-recreational vessel must wear an appropriate USCG–approved PFD unless the child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin. ?Each person on board a personal watercraft (PWC), and anyone being towed behind a vessel, must wear a USCG–approved PFD. Inflatable PFDs are not to be worn on PWCs or while water-skiing. ?Besides being labeled “U.S. Coast Guard approved,” all PFDs must be: ?In good and serviceable condition. ?Readily accessible, which means you are able to put the PFD on quickly in an emergency. ?Of the proper size for the intended wearer. Sizing for PFDs is based on body weight and chest size

Who May Operate a Vessel?

To operate a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or greater (including PWCs), a person who was born on or after January 1, 1988 must have completed a boater education course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) or passed an approved equivalency exam. Operators who are required to have completed a boating education course or exam must carry on board: ?His or her Boating Safety Education ID Card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and … ?A photographic identification card. ?These operators are exempt from the boater education requirement: ?Persons licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a master of a vessel ?Persons operating on a private lake or pond ?Operators who are accompanied on board by a person who is exempt from the education requirement or by a person who is at least 18 years old, possesses the required identification cards, and is attendant to the operation of the vessel and responsible for any violation that occurs ?Persons operating a vessel within 90 days after purchase who have a bill of sale on board and available for inspection

  • No one under 14years of age may operate any PWC on Florida waters at any time, even if such person possesses a Boating Safety Education ID Card.
  • No one under the age of 18 years may rent/lease a PWC.
  • It is also illegal for the owner of a PWC to knowingly allow a person under 14 years of age to operate a PWC.

Changes to the Boating Safety Education ID Card Requirements as of October 1, 2011

Effective October1, 2011, operators born on or after January 1, 1988, who are required to have completed a boating education course or equivalency exam, must carry on board: His or her Florida Boating Safety Education ID Card and a photographic identification card or… ?His or her course completion certificate showing successful completion of an FWC–approved boating safety course and a photographic identification card. The certificate: ?Must give the operator’s first and last names, their date of birth, and the date they passed the course or equivalency exam and … ?Is valid for up to 90 days from the day the certificate was issued and …?Is not a permanent replacement for the Florida Boating Safety Education ID Card.

Alcohol and Drugs

Florida’s laws against boating under the influence (BUI) of alcohol or other drugs are as strict as those for driving a vehicle while impaired. Florida law prohibits anyone from operating any vessel or using water skis, a sailboard, or similar device while intoxicated due to alcohol or any combination of alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs. ?Florida law states that a person is considered to be “under the influence” if he or she has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, or is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs to a degree which impairs his or her normal abilities. A blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 to 0.08 also may indicate a person is “under the influence” if accompanied by other competent evidence. ?By operating any vessel on Florida waters, you have consented to be tested for the presence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances if requested by a peace officer. Refusal to submit to testing is punishable by a civil penalty of $500 and is also a crime if you have ever been fined for a previous refusal.

Boaters Under 21 years of Age

.02Law Florida takes a strong stand against underage drinking while operating a vessel. Commonly referred to as the “.02 Law,” those boaters under 21 years of age who are found with a measurable breath alcohol level of 0.02 or higher are subject to receiving a citation with minimum mandatory sentencing. If a person under 21 is above a 0.08 breath alcohol concentration, he or she also can be charged with BUI.

An excellent resource for boating safety and boating laws specific to Florida is:

For more information on boating safety, please contact the Marco Island Police Department’s Marine Unit at 389-5050 (Point of Contact Lt. Pete Beucler)

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