Alcohol and Boating: What You Need to Know

With summertime just around the corner, enjoying a nice day out on the Ottawa River or your favourite inland lake, or even a weekend jaunt to enjoy Lake Ontario, could quickly become a disaster if you decide to drink alcohol while operating your boat. It can be tempting, especially on those hot summer days, to bring along some cold and chilled alcoholic beverages to help cool down and enjoy your fun day on the water.

The Criminal Code of Canada had a rather broad definition for the term vessel, which refers to a wide array of water vehicles, including, but not necessarily limited to:

  • Canoes
  • Rafts & Inflatable Rafts
  • Jet-Skis
  • Dinghies
  • Sail and Motorized Boats of All Types

However, it is worth noting, there are specific laws regarding the transport and consumption of alcoholic beverages on boats. It is beneficial to review these in detail to ensure you comply with these laws. For instance, the boat must have permanent built-in washroom, cooking, and sleeping areas, be anchored and tied to a dock or considered grounded in order to consume alcoholic beverages while on a boat. In addition, the transport of alcohol must be stored in a closed compartment, which cannot be readily accessible. But, once the boat is underway, no alcohol is allowed to be consumed by anyone on the boat, regardless of whether they are operating the vessel.

What Are the Penalties of Operating a Vessel While Under the Influence?

The penalties, if charged, convicted, and found guilty for operating a boat while impaired or Over 80 are the same as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. Your driver license will be suspended, your boat can be impounded, and you will face varying monetary fines. Additionally, the offence is recorded on your driving record and/or criminal record, and your insurance rates will most like increase.

What If I Refuse to Provide a Sample?

Refusing to provide the police with a sample, either when initially requested using a portable breathalyze or after be transported to the local police station, results in being charged with impaired operation of a vessel. The consequences of refusing a sample are the same as impaired operation, if you are convicted and found guilty of the offence.

To avoid being charged, everyone on board should remain sober while spending time on the water. If you have been charged with operating a vessel while under the influence, it is in your best interests to consult with experienced Ottawa DUI lawyer, Celine Dostaler by calling 613-695-8595 for a no-obligation 30 minute consultation today.


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If this is urgent, call Céline Dostaler at 613-863-8595.