A conviction for impaired driving or over 80 is not reserved for circumstances involving motor vehicles. A person can receive a conviction for impaired driving or over 80 if he or she operates, or is in care and control of any boating vessel, aircraft or railway equipment. Given the vast number of lakes located not far from the Greater Toronto Area, it is not surprising that there is an increase in the number of cases involving drinking and boating during the summer months. With the upcoming Canada Day holiday, some of you may be on your way to a cottage, fishing, or simply enjoying some time on the water. It is important that you stay safe if you are going to be on the water and that you understand the implications of drinking and boating.
Drinking and Boating is the same as Drinking and Driving
It may come as a surprise to some of you that, if you are convicted of impaired operation of a boating vessel your Ontario driver’s licence will be suspended, just as if your driver’s licence would be suspended if you had been convicted of impaired operation of a motor vehicle.
For greater certainty, a vessel is not limited to boats. Drinking and boating can involve all forms of vessels including; a sea-doo, kayak, canoe, sailboat, and inflatable rafts. The specific definition of a vessel can be found in section 214 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
You should also be aware that a boat engine does need to be running in order to be convicted of drinking and boating. Impaired operation of a vessel can include circumstances where the boat is simply drifting and the engine is turned off.
Penalties for Drinking and Boating
If you are charged with impaired operation of a boating vessel, your Ontario driver’s licence will automatically be suspended for a period of 90 days. If you are convicted for impaired operation of a vessel, there is a mandatory minimum one-year driver’s licence suspension for a first offence pursuant to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. For a first conviction involving drinking and boating, there is also a mandatory minimum $1,000 fine pursuant to the Criminal Code.
A conviction relating to drinking and boating will also require that you install an Ignition Interlock device in your motor vehicle, or you must wait the appropriate period of time (2 years) before you can drive without an interlock device. You will also have to take the Back on Track course which costs more than $600. When you are eligible to have your driver’s licence reinstated, you will be required to pay $150 administrative fee. You should also expect your insurance costs to be double or triple what they were prior to you being charged with drinking and boating.
What if I’m in the Warning Range 0.05-0.08 Blood/Alcohol Concentration?
The first time you are caught drinking and boating and are in the warning range, your driver’s licence will be suspended for 3 days and you will have to pay the $150 administrative fee in order to get your driver’s licence reinstated. A second reading in the warning range will result in an automatic 7-day licence suspension and you will be required to complete the Back on Track course. After 3 positive readings in the warning range, your licence will be suspended for 30 days and you will have a 6-month Interlock condition on your licence. For more information on the penalties for positive readings in the warning range, see the Ministry of Transportation website at;
Ontario Liquor Licence Act
Section 31(2) of the Ontario Liquor Licence Act states;
No person shall have or consume liquor in any place other than;
a) a residence
b) premises in respect of which a licence or permit is issued, or
c) a private place as defined in the regulations
A recreational boat is considered a private place only when it is anchored or secured to a dock or land and it is equipped with permanent sleeping accommodations and cooking and sanitary facilities. When transporting any alcohol on a boat, it must be stowed or sealed in a closed container.
The potential penalties for drinking and boating can be significant. Contact me today if you have been charged with impaired operation of a vessel.
You can also read about the implications of a conviction for impaired driving.