kill switch

As of April 1st of this year, a new Federal law requires that the operator of a boat 26 feet or less wear an emergency kill switch when “operating on plane.” The exemptions to this rule are boats that produce less than 115lbs of thrust or have an enclosed pilothouse. Fines for violating the law range between $100 to $500. Note, this law only pertains to federal waters, which begin three miles of the East Coast of Florida (9 miles on Florida’s West Coast).

There is additional kill switch related legislation currently proposed in the State of Florida. Eithan’s Law (HB 1099). The law proposes that boat operators be required to attach a kill switch to themselves while “making way” in Florida waters. Similar to the Federal Law, it would apply to boats less than 26 feet but wouldn’t apply to boats with enclosed pilothouses or being powered by a trolling motor. Unlike the Federal Law, Ethan’s Law would apply at slow speeds and would cover anywhere in Florida (not just offshore). If passed, HB 1099 will take effect July 1st, 2021.