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Boating Citation in Florida

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients after they receive a Florida Uniform Boating Citation. Many of these cases involve a boating citation issued by officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (“FWC”).

The citation might also come from an officer on marine patrol for a local law enforcement agency, police department, or sheriff’s office.

Boating citations can allege either civil or criminal violations. The Florida Uniform Boating Citation can allege violations of an ordinance or statute. If the citation is for a criminal violation, then a court appearance is required. The citations are serious because they might increase your insurance rates or have other collateral consequences.

An attorney can help you determine whether the stop of the vehicle was unreasonable and in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. An attorney can also help you determine, even if the initial stop of the boat or water vessel was legal, whether the continued detention of the occupants was improperly prolonged.

Any problem with the stop or detention can result in a motion to suppress any evidence gathered.

Additionally, an attorney can help you determine whether the infraction or violation of the law actually occurred, even if the evidence was gathered legally. No matter the circumstances, an experienced attorney for boating citations can help you resolve the citation for the best possible terms.

Attorney for Boating Traffic Citations in Florida

If you were cited for a violation of the boating laws in Florida, then you only have thirty (30) days to decide whether you want to plead guilty and pay the citation, or fight the case in court by entering a not guilty plea.

Paying the citation means that you will certainly be “convicted” of the offense. That conviction means that you may receive points, have an increase in your insurance premiums, or be ordered to complete a boating safety course.

If you hire an attorney at Sammis Law Firm, we can fight the boating traffic citation on your behalf with the goal of getting an outright dismissal. We are particularly experienced in fighting criminal boating citations for boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs or reckless operation of a boat.

We also help clients accused of violating the boating exclusion zone which can be charged as a misdemeanor.

Our main office is located in downtown Tampa. We have a second office in New Port Richey across from the courthouse at the West Pasco Judicial Center.

Call (813) 250-0500 today.

The Most Common FWC Boating Violations

The most common FWC violations listed on the Boating Citations include:

  • boating under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances;
  • willful or wanton reckless operation of a vessel;
  • careless operation of a vessel;
  • violation of restricted area or combustion zone;
  • violation of navigation rules;
  • manatee violation;
  • speed / restricted area violation;
  • registration certificate not on board;
  • registration number not properly displayed;
  • operation of unnumbered or unregistered vessel;
  • failure to transfer title / registration;
  • expired registration;
  • water ski violation;
  • improper / insufficient safety equipment or lights;
  • no boater I.D. card; or
  • FWC violation.

Court Appearance Instructions for Boating Citations in Florida

The court appearance instructions on the uniform boating citation might provide:

If you desire to plead NOT GUILTY to the charge, your personal appearance in court is required as indicated on this notice. Posting of bail does not relieve you of the requirement of appearance and in the event of nonappearance, the court may both forfeiture the bail and issue a warrant for your arrest.

Alternatively, can you retain an attorney to enter a not guilty plea for you and appear in court on your behalf.

Keep in mind that if you do not have an attorney, then the failure to answer this summons in the manner prescribed will result in a warrant being issued on a separate and additional charge.

If you pay the ticket, you might be required to attend and successfully complete an approved boater safety court and file proof with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Your privilege to operate a vessel will be suspended until you have done so, if so required. You might also be required to comply with the violation education requirement if:

  • this is a criminal charge;
  • this charge cause a recreational accident as listed in s. 327.30; or
  • if you have been convicted of any boating charge listed in 327.731(1), F.S., including violations for any of the following:
    • careless operation under Section 327.33(2);
    • water skiing violations under Section 327.37;
    • interference with navigation under Section 327.44;
    • restricted area and speed limits under Section 327.46, Section 327.22, 370.60, or Section 370.12(2);
    • safety equipment and lights under Section 325.50;
    • muffling devices under Section 327.65;
    • navigation rules under Section 327.33(3)(b); or
    • personal watercraft under Section327.39.

Many people complain that the courts seem to purposely make it difficult to contest the citation. The citations are often very vague making it difficult to understand what violation is being alleged  Having an experienced attorney is necessary so that all the steps can be followed correctly.

For example, pursuant to F.S. Section 327.73, any person who fails to appear or otherwise properly respond to a uniform boating citation shall in addition to the charge relating to the violation of the boating laws of this state, be charged with the offense of failing to respond to such citation and, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.

An experienced attorney can make sure that you contest the boating citation in the right way and respond appropriately.

Failure to Satisfy Your Boating Citation

If you fail to notify the clerk of one of the options listed in this guide within thirty (30) days from the date the citation was issued, the clear will impose a $20 late penalty and schedule the case for a hearing date will be set before a Judge.

Some types of boating citation infractions are civil and can be paid without appearing in court (although paying the citation means that you will be convicted of the offense and face the collateral consequences that might apply).

Examples of payable boating citation infractions include:

  • Unnumbered/Unregistered Vessel $73.00
  • Registration Number Display $73.00
  • Vessel/Registration Certificate $73.00
  • Registration Decal Display $73.00
  • Expired Registration $73.00
  • Careless Operation $90.00
  • Waterski and similar activities $90.00
  • Interference with Navigation $90.00
  • Manatee/Speed Zone $90.00
  • Boating Safety Equipment $90.00
  • Navigation Lights $90.00
  • Personal Watercraft/Lifevest $90.00
  • Marine Sanitation/Equipment $73.00
  • Marine Sanitation/Discharge $273.00
  • Boating Safety ID Card $90.00
  • Overloaded/Overpowered vessel $90.00
  • Divers Down Flag $90.00
  • Flag Display on Airboat $90.000
  • Seagrass Scarring $90.00

For some types of civil boating citation infractions, a second or subsequent violations can result in larger fine amounts including:

  • Fishing/Hunting License $72.00 Fine amount will vary depending on type of required License.
  • State Park Violation $80.00 Fine amount will vary depending on type of violation.
  • BUI/Refusal to Submit/Breath 500.00

Your attorney can help you request a court hearing on any civil boating citation infraction to contest whether the infraction was actually committed.

In those cases, the court will typically reduce the fine amount even after a determination that the offense was committed or the court can impose a higher fine not to exceed $500.00 in addition to applicable court costs.

Your attorney can complete the request for court hearing form on your behalf and submit the form with a copy of the citation to the clerk of court in Hillsborough County, FL.

Citations for Boats, Docks, Beaches, and Waterways

In Pinellas County, FL, the courts have published a “uniform fine schedule” with Roman numerals after each entry that indicate the class (I-V) in which the violation falls for purposes of assessing the appropriate fine.

MARINAS & YACHT BASINS:

  • Trespass on watercraft prohibited (IV)
  • Trespass on docks or slips prohibited (IV)
  • Spears or harpoons; unlawful use of (IV)
  • Signs on docks, ships and grounds; improper posting of (IV)
  • Reckless operation of watercraft prohibited (II)
  • Permit required for sale and soliciting sale of bait (IV)
  • Nets; Unlawful use of (IV)
  • Equipment; improper keeping of (IV)

WATERWAYS:

  • Water and Navigator Control Authority Ordinance (I)
  • Wharves; improper use of public wharves (IV)
  • Water-ski regulations; violations of (V)
  • Swimming and throwing trash; unlawful (V)
  • Speeds; excessive speed by watercraft prohibited (V)
  • Searchlights, horns and whistles; improper use of (V)
  • Safety equipment; failure to have proper equipment (V)
  • Pumping; unlawful pumping of bilges or disposal of petroleum products (III)
  • Piers; unlawful operation of watercraft around (III)
  • Hazardous vessels or watercraft prohibited (II)
  • Gasoline; improper transportation of (IV)
  • Fishing; unlawful use of prohibited tackle (V)
  • Fishing prohibited in specified areas (II)
  • Dredging operations, prohibited during certain hours (IV)
  • Diving or jumping from bridges or piers prohibited (II)
  • Debris; unlawful depositing of in waterways (IV)
  • Careless operation of vessels prohibited (V)
  • Bow riding prohibited (IV)
  • Blocking channels prohibited (II)
  • Bathing in boat channels prohibited (IV)
  • Abandoned vessels or watercraft prohibited (IV)

SEAWALLS:

  • Failure to comply with minimum standard requirements for the construction of seawalls and bulkheads (III)
  • Failure to maintain and repair seawall and bulkheads (III)

BEACHES:

  • Watercraft; use of within bathing area prohibited (IV)
  • Littering prohibited (V)
  • Glass prohibited on beaches (IV)
  • Docking watercraft with living facilities; restrictions on (IV)
  • Anchoring so as to obstruct beaches and channels prohibited (IV)

This article was last updated on Thursday, September 10, 2020.

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