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Reckless Operation of a Vessel

To prove the crime of Reckless Operation of a Vessel under § 327.33(1), Fla. Stat., the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant operated a vessel or manipulated any water skis, aquaplane or similar device;
  2. The defendant did so with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property;
  3. The defendant operated the vessel or manipulated the water skis or aquaplane or similar device at a speed or in a manner as to endanger or that was likely to endanger life or limb or injure a person or damage the property of a person.

The standard jury instructions for reckless operation of a vessel under § 327.33(1), Fla. Stat., can be found in Chapter 28.19, adopted in 2018.

Crimes charged under § 327.33 (often called “reckless boating) are charged as a first-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to twelve (12) months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Under 327.33(1), the reckless operation of a vessel includes a violation of s. 327.331(6) which prohibits a vessel from approaching within 100 feet of a divers-down warning device on a river, inlet, or navigation channel, or within 300 feet of a divers-down warning device on waters other than a river, inlet, or navigation channel, or proceeding faster than is necessary to maintain headway and steerageway.

If you are accused of violating the navigation rules and that violation results in a boating accident causing serious bodily injury as defined in s. 327.353 or death, then you can be charged with a misdemeanor of the second degree even if the violation does not constitute reckless operation of a vessel.

Attorney for Reckless Boating in Tampa, FL

If you received a boating traffic citation (BTC) for Reckless Operation of a Vessel under § 327.33(1), Fla. Stat., then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm. Related offenses including boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol (commonly known as “BUI”).

Our main office is located in downtown Tampa, FL. We also have a second office in New Port Richey across from the West Pasco Judicial Center. We represent clients for boating offenses throughout the west coast of Florida from Hernando County to the north and Sarasota County to the south.

The courts throughout the greater Tampa Bay areas handle vessel crimes differently including in Hernando County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Manatee County, Sarasota County, Polk County, and Hillsborough County.

Contact us to discuss the charges against you, possible penalties, and the best way to fight the charges for an outright dismissal.

Call (813) 250-0500 today.

Definitions for Reckless Operation of a Vessel

Under § 327.02(30), Fla. Stat., the term “operate” means to be in charge of, in command of, or in actual physical control of a vessel upon the waters of this state, to exercise control over or to have responsibility for a vessel’s navigation or safety while the vessel is underway upon the waters of this state, or to control or steer a vessel being towed by another vessel upon the waters of the state.

The term “vessel” means a boat and includes every description of watercraft, barge, and airboat, other than a seaplane, on the water used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.

The term “willful” means intentionally, knowingly and purposely.

The term “wanton” means with a conscious and intentional indifference to consequences and with knowledge that damage is likely to be done to persons or property.

Under § 327.02(32), Fla. Stat., the term “person” means an individual, partnership, firm, corporation, association, or other entity.

Under § 327.331, Fla. Stat., a vessel other than a law-enforcement or rescue vessel that approaches within 100 feet of a divers-down warning device on a river, inlet, or navigation channel or 300 feet of a divers-down warning device on waters other than a river, inlet, or navigation channel must proceed no faster than necessary to maintain headway and steerageway.

A violation of this law constitutes the Reckless Operation of a Vessel.

This article was last updated on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

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