Hitting the water on your boat this weekend? Getting a little sun and fun is what Canadian weekends are all about, but staying safe doesn’t have to ruin your good time. All you need to do is bring your life jacket or personal flotation device along and leave your alcohol safely at home.
Ontario police and the Canadian Safe Boating Council want you to know that drinking and boating is exactly the same as drinking and driving, and that doesn’t mean just powerboats either. You can’t drink and boat in a canoe, sailboat, or even a rowboat, and if you do, you’ll be charged with impaired driving. If you’re caught driving impaired? You can hand over the keys to both your boat and your car because you’ll receive an immediate license suspension.
Ontario penalties for drinking and boating are similar to impaired driving, and you don’t have to be over .08 to be charged. Penalties include the following if you have a blood alcohol level in the ‘warn’ level of .05 to .08:
- 3 day license suspension for first time impaired boaters
- 7 day license suspension for second time impaired boaters along with a mandatory alcohol education program
- 30 day license suspension for third time offenders with mandatory alcohol education program and six month ignition interlock installation on your vehicle
If you’re stopped behind the wheel of your boat and you’re over .08, or if you refuse to provide a breath or blood alcohol sample, you will receive an immediate 90-day administrative driver’s license suspension. If you’re convicted, you’ll also receive:
- License suspension of one year to life
- Mandatory alcohol education program
- Ignition interlock installation as a condition of license reinstatement for a period of one year to life
To cut down on impaired boating, law enforcement will be cruising the waters looking for impaired or ‘buzzed’ boaters. Do yourself a favour – leave the booze back home and don’t drink and boat.