Impaired Boating is Just Like Impaired Driving.

Author:Gallagher, Cheryl

Who Boats

Boating is BIG in Canada. The Canadian Safe Boating Council estimates that approximately 40% of Canadians participate in boating and that there are about 5 million boats in Canada. The boating season in Canada, especially for the in-land lakes and rivers, is typically between May and October, or more specifically, the Victoria Day Weekend to Thanksgiving. Even on the West Coast, where people boat year-round, many boaters tend to do most of their boating during the summer season and cut back when the weather gets colder.

This means throughout the summer, boating season is in full swing. With warmer waters and hotter days, many people enjoy fun-in-the-sun adventures on their boat. And although there is a strong hang over (pun intended) from years gone by that boating and drinking go together, it just simply is not the case anymore. It has taken a long time to get the message out that the risks of drinking and boating can be as significant as drinking and driving. Studies by the Lifesaving Society of Canada have shown that approximately 40% of boating-related fatalities have alcohol as a contributing factor. And that number does not take into account other impairments like prescription drugs or the use of cannabis, whose pending legalization is likely to drive those numbers of impaired operation up.

The Drinking Facts

Drunk boating is drunk driving. Operating a boat while under the influence is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. You are considered to be 'impaired' or 'under the influence' if your blood alcohol level exceeds 0.08 (80 mg of alcohol per 100 mg of blood). 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 in the eyes of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Under Canadian law, if you are convicted of Impaired Operation of a Vessel, your first offence will award you with a minimum fine of $1000. For your second offence, include 30 days of imprisonment and with your third (and any subsequent offences), expect to spend at least 120 days in jail.

In the province of Ontario, (and other provinces are considering similar laws), impaired operation of your boat extends to your privileges to drive your automobile. That means if you are convicted of impaired operation of your boat, the remedies migrate to your driver's...

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