Senate Bill Would Scuttle Young Captains

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A state senator from Ft. Lauderdale wants to put age restrictions on who can chart their own course on the water.

Under the bill filed by Sen. Gary Farmer, children under age 16 would be prohibited from operating most boats on salt water unless accompanied by sober adults. The proposal would prohibit minors younger than 16 from operating vessels with motors of at least 10 horsepower or sailboats that have hulls of 10 feet or more.

The bill includes an exemption for minors accompanied by people at least 21 years old. However, it specifies that supervising adults could not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Parents who allow minor children to violate the law would face a second-degree misdemeanor, which could carry a fine up to $500 or 60 days in jail.

Last year, lawmakers tabled a proposal driven by high-school students from Broward County that called for setting the age at 16 to operate a personal watercraft in Florida.

The 2016 bill was proposed after a pair of 14-year-olds from Tequesta went missing in July 2015 after steering a 19-foot boat out of the Jupiter Inlet into the Atlantic Ocean.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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