As of July 1st, Florida boaters get a break from repeated law enforcement safety inspections. Pass one check for required life vests, fire extinguisher and distress signal on board, and you receive an official decal to keep authorities off your back for good.
The change was backed by Republican State Representative, Ritch Workman, who represents Indian River County in the Senate after he felt hassled by “unwarranted safety checks.” However, other government officials believe the law is a step backward.
Last year, Martin County’s five-boat marine unit made 1,467 vessel inspections, which did not require deputies to first observe probable cause or reasonable suspicion of a violation. Indian River County listed 362 inspections in 2015, resulting in 167 warnings and just two citations. Due to budget restraints, deputies do not patrol the waters full time but concentrate on busy periods. St. Lucie County follows the same practice, but the sheriff’s office could not provide numbers.
Under the new law, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will produce annual decals—but with no expiration date—for boats that pass safety checks. Any boat still could be stopped and boarded when officers have probable cause or reasonable suspicions of violations. The bill passed unanimously in the state Senate and overwhelmingly in the House. Governor Rick Scott signed it into law on March 25, 2016.
While the law encourages more positive encounters between boaters and maritime authorities, it does diminish public safety on the waterways. Florida’s extensive waterways, including miles of coastline, as well as rivers and lakes, make the state a boating paradise for its residents; unfortunately, this also makes boating accidents a reality in this community of recreational water sports enthusiasts. When a boat accident results in injuries, a Treasure Coast personal injury attorney is essential for helping you clarify your rights and recoup any compensation to which you may be entitled.
Whether you’ve been injured in an auto or trucking accident, motorcycle accident, maritime accident, slip or fall, dog bite, or if your loved one has been the victim of a wrongful death accident, you deserve to have a powerful and proven Florida Personal Injury Lawyer defending your rights. Before you speak with an insurance company, contact me for a free consultation. I will make sure that you are not bullied or rushed into making a decision, and you will not owe anything unless I win your case. Don’t delay in contacting me today at any of my four offices in Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee. Call 866-460-1990.