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Drinking & Boating… The need to know.

Drinking and boating…the need to know.





Taking time out of our busy schedules to relax and enjoy ourselves is important in each of our lives. Alcohol seems to make it into our social activities, mostly planned but sometimes not planned ahead of time. As many of us realize, drinking and driving never mix. The same can be said about drinking and boating.


Drinking and boating can involve all forms of boats, not just boats with motors. They would include; a canoe, a personal watercraft, a kayak and a sailboat. Essentially, anything floating counts as a boat according to Canadian law. Similar to drinking and driving, it does create many risks everyone really should be aware of.


Some people may think it’s perfectly fine to drink alcohol while on a boat. That’s not entirely true. When it comes to opening alcohol on boats, especially in many provinces including Ontario, the following must apply. The boat you are in must have a permanent toilet, permanent sleeping, and cooking facilities. It must also be anchored or secured to a dock. Houseboats and larger vessels tend to meet these requirements, but smaller boats are not likely to have those features. So, the answer is no, you cannot drink while in your boat.


There is often an assumption that if there are open containers of alcohol, someone is or has been drinking. It may be passengers in the boat but it could also be the person who is operating the boat. In case you’re wondering if it’s just a fine to operate a boat while drinking alcohol, you would be incorrect.

It is actually an offense under the Criminal Code of Canada to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you are asked to blow into a breathalyzer or provide a blood test and your Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC) results are 80mg (0.08) or more, that would consider you as impaired and you would be charged accordingly. Basically, 80mg = drunk boating. It should be noted that approximately 65% of the boating-related incidents across Canada involve alcohol consumption as a major contributing factor. So, what can you do to boat sober?


If you have been drinking, have an individual breathalyzer from Not Your Child Corp to use prior to boating. They are easy to use and can be taken anywhere. It would also be to your advantage to make it a policy that no alcohol on your boat, for you or your passengers.


The maximum penalties for operating a boat under the influence will vary from province to province. In Ontario, the fines and penalties for driving a boat while impaired are the exact same as the consequences of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In Ontario, as it is in each province, there is no difference between impaired boating and impaired driving.


At any time that a boater is convicted for operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Ontario, their driver’s license may be suspended for a minimum of 1 year as well. In addition, they may have Ontario’s Ignition Interlock Program installed in their car if they are convicted of drunk boating. It would be wise to avoid all of this trouble and Not Your Child Corp will to help you.



Scott Corner Blogs

Scott Marshall has spent over 30 years promoting road safety in many jurisdictions. He has been a road safety journalist since 2005. Scott was also an on-air judge on the Discovery Network's Canada's Worst Driver during their first 3 seasons on the air. Not YourChildCorp. is proud to have Scott @Safedriver as a frequent contributor, his insights are irreplaceable.

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