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Boating Accidents in Palm Beach Target of New Watercraft Ban, State Not Happy!

Palm Beach County’s park ban on certain vessels and access to boat ramps violates a state law that is intended to preserve this access for all boaters, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Earlier this year officials in Palm Beach County banned personal watercraft, including Jet Skis, Wave Runners and other similar vessels, from using Sunset Lake in Boca Raton. Officials were worried about the risks for boating accidents in Boca Raton before this ban was in place.

After strong opposition from owners of the personal watercraft, officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission determined that the recent ban did in fact violate a state law that was enacted to protect vessels from rules that are specific to them and didn’t apply to all boats. State officials are looking to toss the County’s law overboard.
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“We have as much right to use [the lake] as any boat owner,” said Paul Jaffe, a local personal-watercraft owner.

Our Boca Raton watercraft accident lawyers understand that a state law, passed back in 2000, prohibited rules that were specific to certain types of watercraft. Sunset Lake is considered to be “waters of the state” and cannot be regulated by county jurisdictions. Although the ban was set to help to reduce the risks of accidents for specific boaters, it cannot remain as it discriminates.

Right now, attorneys with the county are reviewing the state’s claims and are figuring out if there’s a legal risk or not. If they find they’re at risk for violating state laws with the ban, then government officials say they will adjust the law to make it fit.

Recently, the county dished out nearly $1 million to improve that park. Some of the biggest improvements included new docks, a new boat ramp and additional parking near the lake.

When the improvements were concluded and the lake was reopened, it reopened with a sign stating the new prohibitions. According to county officials, safety was the main concern of this ban and they felt that by keeping personal watercraft out of Sunset Lake, the area would be safer and boating accidents would be reduced. Previous accidents fueled this decision. There were approximately 125 accidents involving personal watercraft in Palm Beach County in 2010.

Officials worried that the risks were too high at Sunset Lake and boaters were extremely likely to get into an accident with fast vessels skipping over wakes and weaving through other boating traffic. They also said that the lake was just too small to keep these watercrafts in the game.

The American Watercraft Association even stepped in and voiced opposition to the ban. The association says that speed limits would have been an acceptable solution, but banning these watercrafts is completely unjust and violates state law.

The Boca Raton accident lawyers at Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez, LLC have been successfully and aggressively representing victims and their families in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Miami, and Ft. Pierce for years. Email us or give us a call us today to set up a free, no-obligation appointment to discuss your rights. Call us at 1-800-529-2368.

Additional Resources:

State may sink Palm Beach County’s personal watercraft ban, by Andy Reid, Sun Sentinel

More Blog Entries:

Jet Ski Accidents in Fort Lauderdale Increased through Spring Break Season, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, March 19, 2012

Boating Accidents in South Bay and Elsewhere a Top Concern for Boating Advocates, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, February 28, 2012

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