Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Committee Opens Discussions on PWC Restrictions

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Committee Opens Discussions on PWC Restrictions

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- The initial meeting of the Florida Boating

Advisory Council Personal Watercraft Sub-Committee last

Wednesday seemed to offer good news for PWC users and bad news

for boaters in general.

The good news was that the eight-member body seems little

inclined to consider recommending restrictions statewide for the

small speedy craft. In fact, just the opposite. About the only

legislation the panel appeared ready to support was a statewide

restriction requiring slow-speed operation of PWCs within 100 to

300 feet of shorelines, docks, anchored vessels, vessels under

way, swimming areas, etc. The purpose of that restriction would

be to overcome mass confusion resulting from counties in some

parts of the state legislating their own widely-differing

restricted zones.

"There are apparently a hodge-podge of local restrictions in

Florida," chairman John Lowe of Jacksonville said. "The New

Jersey legislature recently passed a law that said that no local

government could adopt any ordinance on PWCs inconsistent with

state law. I would like to see somebody look into whether or not

there had been any court test of that law."

Testimony before the subcommittee revealed that local

ordinances on PWCs either in force or under consideration

throughout the state included laws prohibiting operation in

certain areas; restricting speeds in areas, including along

shorelines; charging "user's fees" of up to $125 annually and

even banning launching of the craft in the waters of an entire


The bad news for all boaters is the outcry has already begun to

broaden the mandatory education/licensing law affecting 16 to

21-year-olds through the year 2001 by extending it to all

boaters, regardless of age or experience. In effect, creating a

type of statewide driver's license for boats for all operators

of motorized vessels.

"Why wait to do something that everybody seems to agree is so

right to do," said sub-committee member Pat Rose, the

governmental affairs director for the Save the Manatee Club. "I

don't see any reason to wait. …

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