Alcohol and boating can be a deadly combination

Ahh, boating!  Skimming over the water with the wind in your hair. What a great way to spend a summer afternoon, especially with family and friends.  A carefree atmosphere like this is just made to have fun and party. However, this partying should never include drinking alcohol.  Mixing alcohol and boating can have tragic consequences.

When the Canadian Safe Boating Council and speak to Canadian boaters each year during Safe Boating Awareness Week, which runs from May 21st – 27th, and throughout the entire boating season about the dangers of alcohol and boating, there is no gentle way to say it.

Being impaired while operating a boat can cost you thousands of dollars, or worse, turn a fun day into a deadly outing, or a one way trip!

Federal statutes dictate that, whether or not your craft is motorized, you can be charged with Impaired Operation of a vessel under the Criminal Code of Canada if your blood alcohol level exceeds the .08 threshold.   That means you can be charged even if you are impaired while operating a canoe and a judge can, upon conviction, suspend your boating privileges, but it can get worse.

Many provinces have enacted additional legislation to curb the practice of drinking and boating.   In Ontario for example, Bill 209 amended the Highway Traffic Act to also apply to “anyone operating or having the care or control of a vessel”.  As such, anyone found boating with a blood alcohol level above .05, face an on-the-spot drivers’ license suspension.  That’s right.  You can lose your automobile driver’s licence and should your blood alcohol concentration exceed .08, upon conviction an additional suspension of up to one year can be applied.

If that’s not a sufficient deterrent, add the financial impact of court and legal fees, alternative transportation for the year (i.e. taxi, bus, train, etc.) and potential loss of employment if driving is an essential component of your job.  The costs keep mounting even after the reinstatement of your license.  You’ll face drastically increased insurance premiums for up to six years and the inconvenience and embarrassment related to the installation and use of an ignition interlock system.  These costs can easily amount to many thousands of dollars.  The decision to drink and boat seems pretty stupid when stacked up against these penalties.

But many impaired boaters are not stopped before something even worse happens. The Canadian Safe Boating Council completed a survey that identified in nearly 40 per cent of boating related deaths alcohol was a factor and 23 per cent of the cases involved alcohol above the legal limit.

What increases the effects of alcohol in a boat are sunshine and a boat’s natural rocking motion that can quickly turn into a dangerous dunking.  It only takes a large wake or wave, a quick change in the boat’s direction, or a ‘tippy canoe’ to result in someone falling overboard with tragic consequences.

Navigating a boat takes coordination and your full concentration.  Your decision making skills and ability to react suddenly to changes in condition and surroundings is compromised by alcohol.  Your reaction time slows, your vision and judgement are affected and you are more willing to be reckless and take risks.  All of this can result in a preventable accident in which you or someone you care for ends up in hospital or worse. Psychologists know that human nature has a way of rationalizing. “It can’t possibly happen to me” is often the thought. Whether that means “I’ll never be caught” or “I’ll never be killed” doesn’t matter.

Neither of those things will happen if boaters stick to just boating on the water. Afterward, you can have a few drinks on shore and then stay put.

It’s that simple – If you drink, don’t drive your boat.

For more information on safe and responsible boating practices visit Canada’s educational boating website



Just Posted

This bird’s eye view shows the tanker truck fire on Highway 24. (Photo taken by Kurtis Rainer)
UPDATE: Highway 24 open to single-lane traffic after fuel tanker fire

Driver pulled into the runaway lane after the truck wheels caught fire

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

(TNRD Library)
Let the mystery of the Summer Reading Club begin

Are you ready to ‘Crack the Case’ at the Barriere Library?

(Metro Creative photo)
Gardeners of all ages invited to enter 2021 NT Fall Fair contests

The North Thompson Fall Fair Drive Thru scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 4,… Continue reading

Milsom Lodge was built in the East Barriere Valley when the Milsom brothers purchased two parcels of land in 1911, DL 2323 and DL2324. (Milsom’s photo)
The Milsom Lodge: The mansion, the ballroom, the history

“At the turn of the century, when so many families were leaving… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read