June 5, 2017

Know The Facts About Drinking and Boating in Canada!

drinking and boating boatsmart

‘Booze Cruise’ Rules, Risks & Penalties!

We get a LOT of phone calls. Turns out, Canadians call BOATsmart! to find answers for all sorts of questions about boating and about Canada’s Boating Laws. We’ve been asked everything from, ‘How do I dock a boat?’, to ‘How do I get a Canadian Boating License?’ to “Will you marry me?” (yep, our Customer Care Advisors are that good at their jobs!).

Get your Canadian boating license and get on the water in just a few hours!
Last but certainly not least, we hear from a lot of Canadians who are all wondering what the laws are for boating with alcohol in their province or territory. So, let’s clear the fog and get you on the right track to stay safe (and legal) while boating anywhere in Canada.

Taking a ‘Booze Cruise’? – You Could Lose Your Driver’s License!

In Canada, operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. You’re considered to be ‘impaired’ or ‘under the influence’ if you’re tested (with a breathalyzer or blood test) and the results determine that your Blood Alcohol Concentration level (BAC) is in excess of 80mg. Sure, people’s tolerance level to alcohol may vary, but this number does NOT. 80mg = drunk boating. And for good reason – 65% of the boating-related accidents in Canada involve alcohol consumption as a factor.

boatsmart boating drink and boating

What Are The Penalties For Drinking and Boating in Canada?

If you’re convicted of operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the minimum penalties in Canada are:

*1st Offence: A minimum fine of $600.

*2nd Offence: A minimum fine of $600 and at least 14 days in prison.

*3rd or Subsequent Offence: A minimum fine of $600 and at least 90 days in prison

The MAXIMUM fines & penalties will vary province by province.

When Can I Legally Consume Alcohol On a Boat in Canada?

Boat passengers may legally consume alcohol on board a boat in Canada, so long as the boat is equipped with:

*Permanent cooking facilities,

*Permanent sleeping facilities,

*A permanent toilet; and,

The boat must be anchored or secured alongside a dock.

Most yachts and houseboats will meet these requirements, but not all boat types will. As the boat operator, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure your boat meets these requirements before any passengers crack open any beer or liquor. It is also your responsibility to stay sober to make sure everyone gets home safe.

Remember, boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is ALWAYS illegal, however, the rules for when alcohol can be legally consumed and transported on a boat vary from province to province.

So, What Are The Laws For Boating With Alcohol In My Province?
Alberta:

In Alberta, the fines and penalties for operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs match the fines and penalties for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is NO difference between drunk driving and drunk boating.

Alcohol may be consumed on board a boat in Alberta so long as the boat is equipped with a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or docked.

Contact Alberta’s RCMP for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in Alberta.

Ontario:

In Ontario, the fines and penalties for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the same as those applicable to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is NO difference between drunk driving and drunk boating.

Understand that an Ontario boater convicted of operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol of drugs may have their driver’s license suspended for a minimum of 1 year. Ontario’s Ignition Interlock Program will also apply to those convicted of drunk boating.

Boat passengers may consume alcohol on board a boat in Ontario so long as the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or docked.

Contact the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in Ontario.

Quebec:

In Quebec, the fines and penalties for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the same as those applicable to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is NO difference between drunk driving and drunk boating. However, boaters in Quebec are permitted to carry open alcohol on boats while the boat is underway. Even the boat operator may do so, as long as their BAC level does not exceed the legal limit of 80mg.

For more information about Quebec’s laws for boating with alcohol, contact the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

British Columbia:

In B.C., the fines and penalties for operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs match the fines and penalties for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is NO difference between drunk driving and drunk boating.

Alcohol may be legally consumed on board a boat in British Columbia so long as the boat is licensed for alcohol consumption, or the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or docked.

Contact B.C.’s, RCMP for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in British Columbia.

Saskatchewan:

In Saskatchewan, the fines and penalties for operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs match the fines and penalties for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is NO difference between drunk driving and drunk boating.

Alcohol may be consumed on board a boat in Saskatchewan so long as the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or moored to shore.

Contact Saskatchewan’s RCMP for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba:

In Manitoba, the fines and penalties for operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs match the fines and penalties for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is NO difference between drunk driving and drunk boating.

In Manitoba, it is illegal to transport open alcohol on boats. Boat passengers may only consume alcohol on board a boat in Manitoba so long as the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or moored to shore.

Contact Manitoba’s RCMP for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in Manitoba.

New Brunswick:

In New Brunswick, the fines and penalties for driving a boat while impaired by alcohol or drugs are the same as those applicable to driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is no difference between drunk driving and drunk boating.

Boat passengers may legally consume alcohol on board a boat in New Brunswick so long as the boat is equipped with permanent sleeping, cooking and toilet facilities and the boat is anchored or docked.

Contact New Brunswick’s RCMP for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in New Brunswick.

Newfoundland and Labrador:

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the fines and penalties for driving a boat while impaired by alcohol or drugs are the same as those applicable to driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is no difference between drunk driving and drunk boating.

Boat passengers may consume alcohol on board a boat in Newfoundland and Labrador so long as the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or docked.

Contact the Newfoundland & Labrador RCMP for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in Newfoundland & Labrador.

Nova Scotia:

In Nova Scotia, the fines and penalties for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the same as those applicable to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is NO difference between drunk driving and drunk boating.

Boat passengers may consume alcohol on board a boat in Nova Scotia so long as the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or docked.

Contact the Nova Scotia RCMP for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in Nova Scotia.

PEI:

In PEI, the fines and penalties for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the same as those applicable to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is NO difference between drunk driving and drunk boating.

Boat passengers may legally consume alcohol on board a boat in Prince Edward Island so long as the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or docked.

Contact the Prince Edward Island RCMP for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in PEI.

Northwest Territories:

In the NWT, the fines and penalties for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the same as those applicable to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is NO difference between drunk driving and drunk boating.

Boat passengers may legally consume alcohol on board a boat in the NWT so long as the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or docked.

Contact the Northwest Territories RCMP for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in the NWT.

Yukon:

In the Yukon, the fines and penalties for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the same as those applicable to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is NO difference between drunk driving and drunk boating.

Boat passengers may legally consume alcohol on board a boat in the Yukon so long as the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or docked.

Contact the Yukon RCMP for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in the Yukon.

Nunavut:

In Nunavut, the fines and penalties for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are the same as those applicable to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is NO difference between drunk driving and drunk boating.

Boat passengers may legally consume alcohol on board a boat in Nunavut so long as the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or docked.

Contact the Nunavut RCMP for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in the Nunavut.

Remember, these boating laws may change over time, so you should check with your provincial police (OPP for Ontario, SQ for Quebec & RCMP for all other provinces and territories) for the alcohol carriage and consumption restrictions that will apply to your type of boat, in your province.

boatsamrt drink and boat

‘Booze Cruise’ Risks

Most boaters don’t think about boating fines and penalties until they’re on the lake, in the ‘penalty moment’ getting a ticket from a marine police officer. Don’t let this happen to you. Prioritize boating safety, make sure you have your Canadian boating license, all of your required boat safety equipment on board and know the risks for drunk boating. Think of it this way: You go boating with the people you love, right? Never risk the safety of your loved ones. Drinking and driving is as dangerous on the water as it is on a highway.

Stay sober on the water boat operators! Enjoy a cold beverage once back on shore. Or once you’ve met all of the legal requirements for consuming alcohol on your boat. Reward yourself with a cold beer after you’ve got everyone home safe and sound.

Cheers, to safe journeys!

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