When Boats and Booze Collide: Seeking Justice After a Drunk Boating Incident Leaves You Injured or Worse

When Boats and Booze Collide: Seeking Justice After a Drunk Boating Incident Leaves You Injured or Worse

Written By: Patrick Brown and Mandeep Tamber, Student-at-Law

It is extremely dangerous to drink and operate a boat. It is never a good idea, and it comes with deadly consequences. If you are impaired and operating a boat, you can seriously hurt or kill someone. In addition, even if you escape hurting or killing someone, you may still face charges, and they are outlined below.

Are you allowed to drink on a boat in Ontario?

The short answer is No. Operating a boat while impaired is just as illegal as driving a vehicle while impaired and drinking while on a boat as a passenger is not permitted either.

However, if you are not the operator of the boat, there are a few ways that make it permissible to drink alcohol while on a boat in Ontario. The exceptions are very specific and restrictive, however, so make sure you fall within them. See further down in this blog for the exceptions. Getting caught drinking on a boat can be very costly for you, not only in terms of fines but also with how dangerous it could be for you and those around you.

The fine for drinking on a boat that does not fall within the exceptions – as a passenger – is $230. The punishment for being the operator of a boat while under the influence of alcohol comes at a higher cost. See below for the fines and imprisonment that a drunk boat driver would be facing:

1st time offence: Minimum $1,000 fine, minimum 7 days’ imprisonment

2nd time offence: Minimum $1,000 fine, minimum 30 days’ imprisonment

3rd time offence: Minimum $1,000 fine, minimum 120 days’ imprisonment.

As you can see, the penalties are not a slap on the wrist – drinking and driving is never worth it. Red Cross claims that hundreds of people die because of boating-related activities every year and almost 65% of these deaths involve the use of alcohol. Further, alcohol use is a factor in over 40% of recreational fatal boating accidents.

The Law in Ontario:

It is against the law to consume alcohol or drugs while operating a boat in Ontario. The same rules that apply to drinking and driving on land also apply to boating.

If you are caught operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be subject to fines starting at $230 and/or imprisonment.

The only exceptions to this rule are if the boat has a sleeping area, cooking facilities, toilet, or is docked. In these cases, passengers may consume alcohol on the boat.

As Transport Canada puts it in their safe boating guide, mixing alcohol and drugs with boating is far more dangerous than you may realize. Fatigue, sun, wind, and the motion of the boat may dull your senses. Alcohol and drugs intensify these effects, leaving you with reduced fine motor skills (for example, hand-eye coordination) and impaired judgement.

Seeking Justice against a drunk boater who kills and/or hurts

Accidents happen, even when you follow all the rules. McLeish Orlando’s personal injury lawyers have extensive experience in cases involving boating accidents and can help you navigate the aftermath of an injury obtained on the water. Contact McLeish Orlando lawyers for a free consultation.

Patrick Brown


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