Stay Off Water if Impaired

By Martin Blake, Toronto Police Service Published: 9:47 a.m. September 3, 2021

Alcohol is suspected or present in half of all boating fatalities in Canada.

Two men on a boat drinking from cans
Operating a boat while impaired is a criminal offence, don't drink before or while on the water.

Reiterating that impaired boating is impaired driving, Sergeant Melissa Kulik, of Toronto Police Traffic Services, said everyone has a role to play when using the country’s waterways.

Never operate a boat when impaired was her clear message leading up to the last long holiday weekend of the summer.

“You are considered to be impaired when you have 80 milligrams of alcohol or above per 100 milliliters of blood,” she said. “The impaired charge also includes cannabis, prescription medication or any substance that may impair your ability to operate a vessel or conveyance.”

Safe Boating: Drinking & Boating Don't Mix!

Registering a ‘warn’ on the alcohol screening device, 50 milligrams to 80 milligrams, will result in a three-day driver suspension.

“Registering a fail resulting in an arrest means the operator will receive a 90-day suspension,” said Kulik. “Upon conviction for impaired operation, penalties can include not only license suspension, but also fines, ignition interlock and possible jail time. There’s no difference between impaired driving and impaired boating in the eyes of the criminal code of Canada.”

To legally drink on board a vessel in Ontario, it must be equipped as a residence.

“This means having proper sleeping quarters, a wash room and cooking facilities,” added Kulik. “Even with a floating house, drinking on board is only allowed when the vessel is anchored, docked or hard aground, but never while under way.”

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