The Florida Legislature determined, in the interest of public health, life, property, and safety, to regulate the practice of engineering in the state of Florida. To accomplish this task the Legislature created Chapter 471, Florida Statutes. As provided in this law, the Florida Board of Professional Engineers is responsible for reviewing applications, administering examinations, licensing qualified applicants, and otherwise regulating the practice of engineering throughout the state.

Licensees are expected to know the laws and rules governing their professions and are expected to provide services in accordance with current regulations, codes, ordinances, and recognized standards. When appropriate, the Board has the authority to discipline those individuals and firms (licensed and unlicensed) that offer or practice engineering in Florida. The Board has the power to suspend, revoke, or refuse to issue, restore, or renew a certificate of authorization for a firm, or a certificate of licensure for an individual, or place on probation, fine, or reprimand any firm, professional engineer, or individual found guilty of violating Florida Statutes and Rules.

FBPE’s Legal Department, consisting of the Chief Prosecuting Attorney, Investigators, and a Paralegal/Compliance Officer, manage the complaint and disciplinary processes. The department’s duties include review of complaints, coordination of investigations, preparation of Probable Cause Panel and Board meeting materials, preparation of administrative complaints and orders, litigation of cases at the Division of Administrative Hearings, handling appeals to the court system and assuring compliance with Board decisions. For more detailed information on how to file a complaint, review individuals currently being disciplined, and access Florida’s current laws and rules, refer to their sections under the Legal section of this website.

COMMON QUESTIONS REGARDING REGULATION & ENFORCEMENT

Click one of the commonly asked questions below to expand the answer.

I notice the Board's rule permits electronic signing and sealing of plans. Can I use a CAD generated seal or rubber stamp?

Engineers now have the option of using any seal capable of leaving a permanent ink representation or other form of opaque and permanent impression on hard copy documents. This means CAD generated seals are permitted for use on hard copy documents. The electronic signing and sealing method described in the Board’s rules refers to a secure method of submitting plans to those equipped to accept them in this format.

How long am I required to retain sign and sealed engineering documents?

Rule 61G15-30.009, F.A.C., Retention of Engineering Documents, states:

“At least one copy of all documents displaying the licensee’s signature, seal, which is legible to the reader, date and all related calculations shall be retained by the licensee or the licensee’s employer for a minimum of three years from the date the documents were sealed. These documents shall be maintained in hardcopy or electronic format.”

How do I file a complaint?

If you would like to file a complaint involving either licensed or unlicensed activity, please download a copy of the Uniform Complaint Form, which can be found on the Complaints page in the Legal section of this website. If you want to talk to someone about a potential violation, please call the Board office at (850) 521-0500, and ask to speak with an Investigator.

Once you file a complaint, it will be analyzed to determine if what has been alleged is against the law. If your complaint is not a violation of law, you will receive a letter indicating the file is being closed. If it is determined that the allegation you have made, if true, would constitute a violation of the engineering laws or rules, you will be notified that an investigation will take place. Following the investigation, the case will go to FBPE’s Probable Cause Panel, which is similar to a grand jury, and it will determine if the case should be recommended to the full Board for discipline. The Board then serves as jury in the case and decides guilt or innocence, as well as the level of discipline if the accused is found guilty.

Will the accused know who filed the complaint against them?

Yes. The subject of the complaint has the right to have a copy of the initial complaint documents.

If a complaint is filed against my engineering license, am I allowed to review/have access to the results of the investigation?

Section 455.225(10), F.S., Disciplinary Proceedings, states:

The complaint and all information obtained pursuant to the investigation by the department are confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) until 10 days after probable cause has been found to exist by the probable cause panel or by the department, or until the regulated professional or subject of the investigation waives his or her privilege of confidentiality, whichever occurs first. However, this exemption does not apply to actions against unlicensed persons pursuant to s. 455.228 or the applicable practice act. Upon completion of the investigation and pursuant to a written request by the subject, the department shall provide the subject an opportunity to inspect the investigative file or, at the subject’s expense, forward to the subject a copy of the investigative file. The subject may file a written response to the information contained in the investigative file. Such response must be filed within 20 days, unless an extension of time has been granted by the department. This subsection does not prohibit the department from providing such information to any law enforcement agency or to any other regulatory agency.”

In my practice as a Professional Engineer, I have been asked by governmental entities to provide building inspection services. Do I need to be registered as a building official to provide these services?

In 1998, the legislature adopted H4439 that contained a provision making it clear that PEs can provide building inspection services without being licensed by the Board of Building Code Administrators; however, when providing those services, the engineer is subject to the disciplinary guidelines under the Building Code Administrators Act. Complaints, inspections, and discipline that arise out of a PE’s performance of building inspections shall be handled by FBPE.

When taking over an engineering job from another engineer, do I need to redraw all the plans?

Not necessarily. However, Rule 61G15-27.001, F.A.C., makes it clear that a successor engineer seeking to reuse already sealed documents must be able to document that the successor engineer has, in fact, recreated all the work done by the original engineer. In other words, all site visits, research, and the like must be documented and producible upon demand. In addition, the successor engineer must remove the old title block and use the successor engineer’s own title block and, of course, accept all professional and legal responsibility for the documents.

I am a graduate of an ABET-accredited university with a bachelor's in civil engineering, took the Principles & Practice exam in civil engineering, and have been practicing as a Professional Engineer for a number of years. Can I sign and seal electrical and/or mechanical plan sheets on the convenience store we are working on?

Maybe… Maybe not. Rule 61G15-19.001, F.A.C., sets forth the grounds for discipline and plainly states that performing an engineering assignment when not qualified by training or experience in the practice area involved is misconduct in the practice of engineering. That determination as to being “qualified” is made by the Professional Engineer, but you should be aware that negligence is defined as the failure to have due regard for acceptable engineering principles and that you can only sign and seal documents that conform to acceptable engineering safeguards for life, property, and welfare of the public. In addition, incompetence is defined as the inability of the Professional Engineer to perform duties normally expected of a Professional Engineer.

Occasionally I have been asked by a contractor or other professional to sign and seal plans they did. I understand I can only sign and seal plans over which I have had responsible charge, but what is meant by “responsible charge”?

Consider the following test found in Rule 61G15-18.011, F.A.C.: An engineer who signs and seals engineering documents in responsible charge must be capable of answering questions relevant to the engineering decisions made during the engineer’s work on the project, in sufficient detail as to leave little doubt as to the engineer’s proficiency for the work performed. It is not necessary to defend decisions as in an adversarial situation, but only to demonstrate that the engineer in responsible charge made them and possessed sufficient knowledge of the project to make them. Examples of questions the engineer must be able to answer include the criteria for design, methods of analysis, selection of materials and systems, economics of alternate solutions, and environmental considerations.