Boating and Alcohol Don’t Mix!

Drinking and driving can cost you your licence.., even on the water.

Before you head out on the water for your next weekend of fun be sure you know the maritime laws regarding alcohol. For instance, did you know your driver’s licence could be suspended if you are found to have been consuming alcohol on your vessel while driving? According to the OPP:

“Persons that are stopped and found to have been consuming alcohol while driving a vessel will be charged with Impaired or Over 80mg Operation of a Vessel. They will lose their driver’s licence for 90 days, and if found guilty in court will receive a fine and a driver’s licence suspension for up to one year as well as lose their boating card for a year. The Criminal Record stays with the operator upon conviction.”

Many people are unaware of what requirements need to be fulfilled in order to legally consume alcohol on their vessels. Firstly, no one, including passengers, may drink alcohol on a moving vessel. (The fine for “Open Alcohol While Underway” is $175.00 + $40.00 VFSC = $215.00) Secondly, in order to be legally compliant with OPP regulations and consume alcohol on your boat you must;

  • 1) be legally affixed to ground (docked, moored, or anchored),
  • 2) have a head (toilet) onboard
  • 3) have a galley
  • 4) have sleeping berths available for each person on board

If any of the above are not adhered to you may be fined.

Small vessels that shuttle to a cottage may transport SEALED alcohol only to their destination. This means a new closed box of 6, 12, 24, etc.., beer! New still corked bottles of wine, and new still sealed bottles of liquor may be transported as well. NO single cans or bottles of beer may be transported in a cooler on ice! An officer may interpret this as open alcohol and seize it as well as charge you.

Remember that the effects of alcohol can be increased while boating due to winds, waves, sun etc.
Drink and boat responsibly for your safety and the safety of others on the water!