Proposed boating bill would change license scheme, require insurance for alcohol offenders
Image via FWC.

The Sunshine State leads the nation in boating fatalities.

A South Florida lawmaker has boating safety in her crosshairs for the 2024 Legislative Session.

Sen. Ileana Garcia recently filed a bill (SB 30) that would require all Florida boaters to carry proof of boater-safety training. It also adds penalties for those who boat under the influence.

Florida law now only requires boaters born after 1988 to carry a so-called boater-safety ID, issued by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission upon completion of an approved course. The proposed bill would apply that requirement to all Floridians regardless of age.

The bill attempts to streamline the licensing process too. It would allow boaters to indicate their boater education on their driver’s license, at no extra cost to them. The Department of Motor Vehicles currently charges $1 to do so for new licenses and $2 to do so for unexpired licenses. But both services would be free under the proposed legislation. 

The bill also addresses boating under the influence, a big problem for the Sunshine State’s waterways, where more than 600 boaters were caught under the influence in 2022. 

Under the proposed legislation, those convicted of boating under the influence and another boating infraction — at the same time or within a year of each other — would be required to maintain vessel insurance. The mandatory penalty would require such offenders to carry, at minimum, a $100,000 policy for death or personal injury and a $50,000 policy covering property. 

Such a change would ensure some future boating tort victims would be at least partially compensated for their injuries or property damage. The change would have some teeth to it, providing for a second-degree misdemeanor punishment for failure to carry the insurance.

Garcia, a Miami Republican elected to the Senate in 2020, has a track record of success in the boating-safety space. In 2022, she sponsored comprehensive legislation regulating boat-rental businesses and updating content for boater-education courses. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed that legislation at the end of the 2022 Session.

Boating is a big issue for Garcia’s constituents. The counties with the most boating accidents in 2022 were Monroe, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, in that order. During that same year, Florida topped the list of states in boating fatalities.

Danny McAuliffe

Danny is a contributor at He is a graduate of Fordham Law School and Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. Reach him at [email protected].


  • Dr. Franklin Waters

    September 13, 2023 at 12:42 pm

    “The Sunshine State leads the nation in boating fatalities.”

    Thanks for this statistic, Sherlock. It’s shocking that a large population state that’s surrounded on three sides by warm saltwater and filled with thousands of lakes would have a lot of boating accidents.

    I would have assumed that maybe Kansas would be the winner there.

  • GloraThomas

    September 13, 2023 at 1:21 pm

    All we need for work is a reliable smart phone and an Internet connection, as well as a responsible individual. For all students, regardless of age, whether they vs-82 are in school, recently graduated, or unemployed.
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  • james berry

    September 14, 2023 at 9:52 am

    I am 68 years old and have been boating for 50 years,,no tickets no problems.Why shoild I need To take a course like that.Just more gov.overreach and control.

  • Darrin Smith

    September 14, 2023 at 6:38 pm

    If you’re gonna force me to take a boaters safety course after I’ve been doing it for 50 years with no issues or incidents then I expect to be re imbursed for my time and money. Why punish all for what others do? A boaters safety card will change nothing, nor prevent accidents. That’s just Common Sense!!!

Comments are closed.


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