I just purchased a 34-foot center console and plan on trailering it to Louisiana for a SKA event later this summer. Are there any special permits I need to be aware of? – Mike Schultzey
Before tightening the transom straps you need to first make sure you have an appropriate vehicle that will accommodate the towing capacity of your boat and trailer. Because your load is so large you’ll also need the appropriate permit for towing a wide load. While you need to be fully aware of your surroundings it’s also critical your trailer is ready for such a long haul. If you’ve purchased a pre-owned trailer, it’s imperative to remember that repeated immersion in saltwater, wear and tear from highway driving and lack of maintenance take their toll. It’s important you inspect the trailer’s components, particularly the hubs and lights, before hitting the highway.
The following requirements are applicable to Florida roads, but you’ll also need to acquire the necessary permits for each state you plan on visiting. Although many boaters routinely trailer oversized loads without permits, you should know that if you get in an accident and don’t have the required permits your insurance provider may not cover the damage. The fine for not having a permit will also be much greater than the original permit fee.
With that being said, trailers that have a width of less than 8 feet 6 inches do not require any special wide load permits. In the case of your 34-foot center console with a beam likely around 10 feet you’ll need to apply for a wide load permit. In Florida, trailer loads from 8 feet 6 inches to 12 feet wide require special permitting. A single trip permit covers widths up to 12 feet and costs $10. A blanket permit covering widths up to 12 feet costs $25 for the year. Trailers wider than 12 feet come with additional restrictions that may include specified routes, speed limits and restricted travel to daylight hours and weekdays. It’s important to note that it is the overall outside width of your load that counts, not the width of your trailer. While you must abide by width requirements and regulations, there’s also a 65-foot maximum length measured from your vehicle’s front bumper to the rear of your trailer load. In addition, your vehicle and trailer may not exceed 13 feet 6 inches tall.
Florida Statues specify that boat and trailer weights eclipsing 3,000 pounds require brakes on all axles. Boat trailers are also required to have working brake lights, turn signals, license plate lights, transom tie downs and a safety chain. While you can call the Florida Department of Transportation at 850.410.5777, the application and permitting service is painful. To streamline the process, especially if you need permits for transiting through multiple states, it is highly recommended you use a service like mercurypermits.net to make certain you have the proper documentation. Good luck and safe travels.
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