A new dive flag law HB 1049: Divers- was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott on June 13th and will be effective beginning July 1st 2014. The new law “Requires all divers to prominently display divers-down flags or buoys in areas in which diving occurs; requires vessel operators encountering divers-down buoys to take specified actions; prohibits divers-down buoys from being used or displayed onboard vessels.”
The bill gives divers the option of using a traditional diver down flag or a divers-down buoy to mark their position in the water. This legislation has broad support and is viewed as a means of increasing diver visibility and improving safety.
Currently, Florida law requires divers to display a red divers-down flag with a white horizontal stripe. The width of the stripe must be 25% of the height of the flag. The flag must be square or rectangular with a minimum size of 12 inches by 12 inches and 20 inches by 24 inches if displayed on a vessel or structure. Divers must display the flag and remain within 100 feet of it while diving in rivers, inlets and navigation channels. The distance is 300 feet in other waters. Boaters are required to maintain the same distances from divers down flags.
The new law gives divers the additional option of using a buoy in place of a flag when the diver is diving independent of a vessel. A Flag remains the only option as a diver down warning displayed from a vessel. A divers-down buoy is defined as, “A buoyant device, other than a vessel, which displays a divers-down symbol of at least 12 inches by 12 inches on three or four flat sides, which is prominently visible on the water's surface when in use.”
Violation of the law results in a noncriminal infraction punishable by a civil penalty and a requirement that the person appears before the county court. The bill also requires boater education and safety courses to include a component regarding divers-down buoys and diver-down flags.
Do you want to know more about the Diver Down Flag? Learn about the history and how it came to be!