Jet Ski (PWC) Regulations & Rules in Florida

by | Jan 28, 2022 | Florida, PWC

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Riding on Jet Skis (PWCs) is very fun and safe, doing so in Florida provides a beautiful climate that is always full of sun and enjoyment. 

It is important to follow Florida’s laws and regulations to ensure that you are staying safe for yourself and others. Shark Watersports provides the best jet ski (PWC) equipment, and we want to ensure you make the best use of it. 

Read below to ensure you know the proper ways to ride in the water here in South Florida.  

Basic Rules

  • Anyone riding or operating or being towed by any personal watercraft must have an approved PFD (Personal Flotation Device). Inflatable PFDs are not permitted.
  • The engine cutoff switch must be attached to the operator (via clothing, PFD, or person).
  • Unless an emergency, it is unlawful to moor or fasten to any lawfully placed navigation.


Education Requirements

  • Anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 is required to either have successfully completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating education course or have passed a course equivalency or temporary certificate examination and have in their possession a boating education ID card and a photo identification card before operating a vessel with a motor of 10 HP or more in Florida. 
    • Identification cards for persons completing the course or the equivalency exam are good for a lifetime. 
    • Temporary Certificate exams are made available to the public through contractors. The temporary certificate is valid for a temporary amount of time.

Age Restrictions

  • A person must be at least 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft in Florida.
  • A person must be at least 18 years of age to rent a personal watercraft in Florida.


Reckless & Careless Operation

  • All operators are responsible for operating their vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner with regard to other vessel traffic, posted restrictions, in the presence of a divers-down flag, and other circumstances so as to not endanger other people or property.
  • Reckless driving is prohibited. The following are classified as reckless driving:
    • Swerving between boats.
    • Driving too close to other boats.
    • Jumping the wakes of other boats inappropriately.


Impaired Operation

  • It is a violation of Florida law to operate a PWC or any vessel while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • A vessel operator is presumed to be under the influence if their blood or breath alcohol content is at or above .08 percent. 
  • Any person under 21 years of age, who is found to have a breath alcohol level of .02 or higher and operates or is in actual physical control of a vessel is in violation of Florida law is also breaking this violation


Regulatory Signs


Idle Speed No Wake


Idle Speed No Wake can be best described as the slowest speed that a PWC or vessel can travel and still allow the operator to maintain steerage, headway, and control of the vessel and any object he may have under tow.


For a PWC or typical small recreational vessel this is a speed of idle. The operator may find the PWC or vessel to be slower to respond and may require the operator to prepare for maneuvers such as turning or docking.


Slow Speed Minimum Wake


Slow Speed Minimum Wake is best described as a speed where the PWC or vessel is fully off a plane, fully settled in the water and producing a minimum wake. This speed will vary from vessel to vessel and will depend on the size, weight and hull design of the vessel. Your vessel should not produce a wake that creates a hazardous condition that endangers or is likely to endanger or damage other vessels or endanger other persons using the waterway.


Maximum Miles Per Hour


Many Florida waters regulate the maximum speed for PWC’s or vessels. These are posted in Miles Per Hour which is the speed a vessel travels over the bottom, measured in statute miles. The vessel still is required to be operated at a safe speed, not produce an excessive wake or operate at a speed that causes the bow of the vessel to be elevated, restricting the operator’s visibility.


A PWC or vessel’s speed can be calculated by timing the vessel when it travels through a measured mile course at a constant RPM. Divide 60 by this time (in minutes) to get your approximate speed in miles per hour. Calculate your speed at various RPMs and keep the list on the vessel for reference. A GPS unit may also tell you the speed of your vessel.


No Entry Zone or No Entry Area


PWC or vessel travel is prohibited either year around or seasonally on some Florida waterways. This also includes persons swimming, diving, wading or fishing using poles equipped with a fishing line retrieval mechanism or reel. An example of an area where you might find a No Entry Area or Zone is a warm water discharge canal at a power plant where entry is prohibited during the winter months.


Hope you feel confident to follow the rules of Florida’s waters and have fun while doing so. If you have any questions make sure to reach out to specialists here at Shark Watersports.

Stay safe and have fun on the water!

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