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Alcohol and Water... A potentially deadly combination


At a greater risk of drowning this summer are males between the ages of 18 and 34, who have been drinking alcohol and are not wearing life-jackets while participating in recreational on-water activities. Alcohol involvement is twice as high among adult male victims compared to women - and every summer lives are needlessly lost to alcohol consumption and boating accidents.

Impaired Boating is Impaired Driving 

Boating is a fun and exciting way to enjoy time with friends and family. To ensure that your boating experience is enjoyable, it is important to practice safe boating practices. Here are three helpful ways to reduce risk while boating:

WEAR THE EQUIPMENT! Make sure everyone in the boat is wearing, and is buckled into, an approved lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD).

DRIVE SOBER! Alcohol and boating do not mix - in Ontario you can be charged and have your driver's licence suspended with a 0.05 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

GET TRAINED! Training gives you the knowledge to make smart choices when boating.

Boaters caught drinking and boating in Ontario will face the same
penalties as those for drinking and driving. Penalties include:

  • 3-, 7- or 30 day driver's licence suspension if caught with a blood
    alcohol concentration (BAC) in the "warn" range (0.05 to 0.08)
  • Drivers caught more than once face mandatory alcohol education and
    treatment programs and ignition interlock

For boaters exceeding a 0.08 BAC:

  • Immediate 90-day Administrative Driver's Licence Suspension (ADLS)for exceeding .08 BAC (or for refusing to provide a breath sample)
  • If convicted under the Criminal Code, the boater's driver's licence can be suspended for one year up to a lifetime
  • Mandatory alcohol assessment, education or treatment, and follow-up
  • Ignition interlock condition on their driver's licence for one year to up to a lifetime
  • Vehicle impoundment for driving while under suspension

These penalties apply to anyone who is caught drinking and operating motorized and non-motorized vessels, including power boats, canoes, kayaks, jet-skis, sailboats, dinghies and other inflatable boats and rafts.

Drive_Safe_2010_book_Part2.jpgTips for Safe boating:

  1. Get Your BOATsmart! Card. All Operators of motorized vessels require a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Test your knowledge at and take the exam.
  2. Be Prepared. Being prepared with the right knowledge is good - but ensuring your passengers also know their responsibilities is better.
  3. Check Your Safety Equipment. You should perform maintenance on your craft and equipment at the beginning of each season and at regular intervals throughout the season.
  4. Know The Rules Of The Water. It is very important to know and understand the rules of the water and how to navigate safely. Markers and buoys indicate the most preferred and safest routes for navigation and also mark specific hazards and/or dangers.
  5. Check the weather. Always check the weather forecast before you head out.
  6. Wear Sunscreen. Always protect yourself and your loved ones from the bright sun.
  7. Know The Lake. Consult marine charts and talk to local boaters and marine operators to gain valuable insight on where you're planning on boating.
  8. Leave A Trip Plan. Operators should leave a trip plan with a responsible person - it can be used in case of emergency to aid in locating a missing craft.
  9. Keep The Beer On The Pier. Alcohol and boating don't mix - ever. So keep the beer on the pier andDrive_Safe_2010_book_Part6.jpg the boat on the water!
  10. Wear The Gear. It's simple. Wear a Personal Floatation Device (PDF) or Lifejacket! Make sure everyone on board is fitted with an approved PFD and make them wear it!
  11. Stay Safe, Stay Clear. Stay safe and clear around dams, hydroelectric stations and surrounding waterways.
  12. Have Fun and Make Memories! Ontario is a water-sport paradise and safe family fun is only a splash away.

Keeping these tips in mind and applying the knowledge learned from a boating safety course will ensure you have a great time on the water this summer.

So get out there, have fun and boat smart!

For more boating safety information and to obtain your Pleasure Craft Operator Card
visit or
call toll free 1-877-792-3926.

Contact: Traffic Management Sergeant: 705-675-9171 ext. 2411


For marine safety information Click here!