boating rules ontario

Ontario boating rules: Can I drink on a boat?

Most people in Canada think of the boat as a recreational and enjoyable activity, but they don’t even realize that there are certain rules for boating in Ontario. They have to do with drinking alcohol on the boat, which applies to both operators and passengers. 

There are separate restrictions and penalties for each party. One way or another, drivers, like passengers, are at risk while on the water. If you take alcohol, you risk not only your life but also the health of those who are nearby! Let’s take a closer look at what Ontario boating rules apply and what consequences await those who operate a vessel while intoxicated. 

Is it legal to drink on a boat in Ontario?

Operating a boat while intoxicated is regulated by the Criminal Code of Canada. Such an offence is equivalent to driving under the influence of alcohol. The level of intoxication is determined by a breathalyzer or a blood test. The maximum allowable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 80 mg per 100 ml (0.08%). 

In addition to the Criminal Code of Canada, individual provinces have established regional laws against drunk drivers. Operators of water vehicles can be subject to some pretty harsh penalties, which can be life-altering in the long run. 

What are the new rules about boating in Ontario?

Legislation prohibits the possession of open containers of alcohol on boats. The pilot or passengers are prohibited to consume alcoholic beverages while the boat is in motion. But there are some exceptions to these rules. It is permitted to have open containers of alcohol on vessels in the following cases:

  1. There is a toilet on the watercraft. We are talking about a separately equipped room. Mobile toilets do not count toward the inspection. 
  2. The boat has a cooking and sleeping area. Freestanding beds will not count.  
  3. The vehicle must be moored to the dock. It may be anchored to the shore or in some other manner. 

Usually yachts, houseboats, and tour boats meet these requirements. Smaller boats do not usually meet these requirements. Boat operators must be responsible for their passengers, so choose one of the options: 

  • not allow drinking alcoholic beverages on the boat;
  • anchor the boat to the shore;
  • provide separate sleeping, cooking and restroom facilities. 

Remember, drinking alcohol and boating are always dangerous. According to statistics, 65% of tragic accidents on the water are caused by drinking alcohol. Ontario’s boating rules help reduce this scary pattern. 

What are the penalties for operators for drinking on a boat?

The penalty for operating a boat is only if the blood-alcohol content exceeds the established standard of 0.08%. If an operator is caught drunk, he faces serious penalties and imprisonment. The amount of penalties and terms vary, depending on the court’s decision. 

In Canada, the penalties for operating a water and land vehicle while intoxicated are as follows:

  • first offense – $1,000;
  • second offense – $1,000 and a minimum of 14 days in custody;
  • third and subsequent offenses, $1,000 and three months to five years in prison. 

Once the basic conditions of the penalty are met, the boat operator’s license to drive the vehicle may be confiscated. Also under Ontario Canada’s boating regulations, the operator may be required to hook up to an ignition interlock program. 

This law applies to both land and water vehicles. Even if the license has not been suspended, compliance with the ignition interlock program remains mandatory for operators. 

Not many people know that if you are convicted of operating a boat while intoxicated, your license to drive can also be taken away. Keep this in mind before you allow yourself to drink alcohol at the helm!

Can I drink on a boat in Ontario?

It is legal for passengers to drink alcohol on a boat, but only in small amounts. They are subject to a legal blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.08%. If the limit is exceeded, measures provided for drinking alcohol in public places are taken. 

To motivate passengers to resist the temptation to consume alcohol on board any watercraft, the Ontario Police Service provides specific literature. The pamphlets give tips on how to combine relaxing and alcohol-free boating. By following the advice, passengers do not break the law or risk their health. 

Is it legal to drink alcohol in a canoe in Ontario?

It is illegal to drink alcohol in any mode of transportation in Canada. This rule also applies to canoes, rafts, pontoon boats and kayaks. If an inspection shows that the person driving one is intoxicated, he or she will be subject to the same penalties that apply to drivers of small cars. 

Drunk drivers in Ontario are subject to all the prohibitions contained in the Criminal Code of Canada. Car drivers and boat pilots face serious trouble if their blood-alcohol content exceeds the established limit. There isn’t much room in a canoe, so police will have plenty of reason to assume you are drinking while operating a vehicle. 

Do Ontario’s boating laws allow for board searches?

Current laws in Canada give maritime police the right to check the blood alcohol content of the pilot and passengers at any time. Police officers are also allowed to search the vessel for open containers of liquor on board. 

Ontario’s boating regulations allow you to carry alcohol only in a sealed container unless the watercraft is moored to shore and equipped with separate sleeping, cooking and toilet facilities. The police have the power to investigate any situation that seems suspicious. 

This means that police officers can conduct spot checks on all waterways in Canada. They have the power to require a blood-alcohol test of anyone on a vessel. Anyone can refuse this procedure. But in that case he will have to proceed ashore and take the test at the nearest station, accompanied by a police officer. 

To follow the open container law in Ontario, it is in the interest of the operator of the boat to take care that it is not on board when the marine police vessel approaches. This will avoid serious trouble for all the people on the boat. 

Are boating laws different in Ontario and alcohol laws in other provinces?

Ontario boating regulations are subject to both national and regional laws. The Criminal Code of Canada clearly states – it is illegal to operate a vehicle while intoxicated. Drivers are considered drunk if their blood alcohol content exceeds 0.08%. It does not matter what vehicle you were caught driving while intoxicated. 

The law applies to automobiles, large vessels, small boats, yachts, rafts, etc. Ontario’s rules for boating with alcohol will not be much different in other states in Canada. In most of the provinces, there will be similar penalties for drunken boating as there are for driving drunk behind the wheel of a car. 

For operating a boat while intoxicated, the operator faces hefty fines, a license suspension for a certain period of time, and jail time. Depending on where the case is tried, the amount of fine and length of detention may vary.  

How does drinking on a boat affect a person?

Most people perceive boating as recreation and don’t even realize the possible negative effects of drinking on the water. Some of the most serious detrimental effects include:

  1. Dehydration of the body. In the sun, the body loses fluid faster through perspiration. As a result, dehydration begins and the body tries to replenish the fluid supply by drinking alcohol. Thus, a person becomes drunk more quickly. Also dehydration negatively affects the stomach – spasms appear. They can prevent a person who has fallen overboard from getting to shore or any other salvageable surface more quickly. 
  2. “Yachtsman’s Fatigue.” Caused by a combination of scorching sun, wind, noise, fluctuating water, and vessel movement. All of these factors have a negative effect on the body, but after taking alcohol, their effect will be increased fourfold. In addition, alcohol slows breathing and swallowing reflexes – this can reduce the chances of survival when in the water. 

In addition to the obvious signs of the negative effects of alcohol on the body while boating, other unpleasant symptoms may be observed:

  • impaired concentration, inability to adequately assess the situation;
  • sluggish reactions, loss of balance;
  • superficial perception of potential danger;
  • Inability to focus vision;
  • loss of orientation in space;
  • accelerated hypothermia – alcohol reduces the body’s resistance to cold. 

Alcohol is always a bad companion, whether you are on land or in the water. However, in the water, people have little or no chance of survival if they get into the water while intoxicated. To minimize the risks, you should always keep life preservers on board and avoid drinking alcohol on the boat.

Boating rules in Ontario: What should you do if you are caught drunk on a boat?

If you are accused of operating a boat while intoxicated and you believe it is illegal, you should contact a lawyer immediately. A knowledgeable defense attorney will be able to carefully review all the details of the case and advise on further action. That way you can increase the chances of a favorable outcome of the case. If the result of a positive dismissal of charges or impose a minimum penalty. 

The best solution is not to consume alcohol while boating. Also, don’t forget about open containers of alcoholic beverages. It should not be on the boat unless it is in compliance with the law. The Ontario boating rules are designed to make your vacation as comfortable and safe as possible. Remember that!