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Drinking During the Boating Season in the GTA and Ontario

Drinking during the boating season is part of almost everyone’s summer in Canada. However, freedom to drink does not mean freedom from consequences if you’re charged with driving under the influence. You should know that in Ontario, drinking and boating carry the same penalties as drinking and driving and that having a blood alcohol level in the warning range, or just around 0.05% to 0.08% can cost you your driving licence.

Drinking and Boating in the GTA and Ontario

If you have been boating and an officer comes and asks you for a breath sample and the sample shows as between 0.05% to 0.08%, then you can be asked to surrender your licence. Your licence will be suspended for 3 days for a first offence, 7 days for a second offence, and 30 days for the third offence and above in addition to getting fined $250 for first offence, $350 for second offence, and $450 for third and subsequent offences. Aside from this, attending mandatory alcohol education and treatment programs may be required for boaters and drivers who were caught twice. A third offence will mean getting an ignition interlock device installed and having to attend alcohol education and treatment programs at your own expense on top of fines and suspension. A fourth and subsequent offence within 10 years will require a mandatory medical evaluation which will determine whether you are fit to drive in Ontario.

Consequences for Drinking and Boating Charge in the GTA and Ontario

The above is just for getting caught with an alcohol level of 0.05% to 0.08%. If you are caught to be intoxicated above the legal limit of 80 mgs or more, then you can lose your license even if you were operating a boat and not a car.

If you refuse to provide a breath sample or blow over 80, you will get an immediate 90-day Administrative Driver’s Licence Suspension and the police can charge you with Failing to Provide a Breath Sample as well as Impaired Driving.

Conviction for the above are as follows:

  • First offence means a fine of $1,000 for a BAC of 80-120, $1,500 for a BAC of at least 120 and above, and $2,000 for a BAC of 160 and above or if your refused or failed to provide a breath sample.
  • A second offence means imprisonment of minimum 30 days.
  • Subsequent offences mean imprisonment of minimum 120 days.
  • Imprisonment of not more than 10 years for an indictment and maximum imprisonment of two years less a day for summary conviction.
  • Driver’s Licence Suspension of a year or up to a lifetime plus ignition interlock device condition that goes for a year or up to a lifetime, or a mandatory alcohol assessment, education, or treatment plus follow-up.

The above DUI consequences apply to anyone caught drinking and operating non-motorized and motorized vessels that include sailboats, canoes, kayaks, dinghies, paddle boats, other inflatable boats, and rafts. Running the boat lift or portaging a canoe while impaired will also result in a charge. Note that a conviction means a criminal record that can follow you for life. You must hire a criminal defence lawyer if you’re charged with drinking and boating in the GTA and Ontario. Contact Calvin Barry if you need a criminal lawyer in Toronto.