Ontario Ups Ante for Impaired Boating

Ontario Ups Ante for Impaired Boating

A conviction for impaired driving of a motorboat in Ontario will now result in the suspension of your driver’s licence. The Ontario government on June 22 amended the law to extend the penalties for drunk driving on the road to boaters convicted of driving while impaired or with excess alcohol.

As a result, a first conviction for impaired boating will result in a one-year suspension of your driver’s licence. To get your licence reinstated you will have to pay $150 and enrol in the Ministry of Transportation’s Back on Track driver rehabilitation program (cost: $503.50). And when you’re licence is reinstated, you’ll have to use an ignition interlock device in your car for at least a year (cost: over $1,000).

Criminal Code penalties, including jail and fines, will continue to apply to those found guilty of driving a motor boat while impaired.

Immediate licence suspensions kick in

Under the new amendments, the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario also now authorizes marine police to suspend your driver’s licence for 12 hours if you blow between 50 and 80 mgs in 100 ml of blood, that is under the legal limit. If you blow over 80 mgs, your licence will be suspended immediately for 90 days.

The latest amendments add to provincial laws that already restrict the combination of boats and booze. Under the Liquor Licence Act of Ontario it is an offence to consume alcohol in a moving boat (including sailboats and canoes) unless a licence or permit allows you to do so. Without a licence or permit, you cannot consume alcohol on a boat even if it’s stationary unless the boat is a “private place”.

For a boat to be considered a “private place” it must have permanent sleeping accommodation and permanent cooking and sanitary facilities. It also must be at anchor or secured to a dock or land and the public must not be invited or be permitted access to it.

Further, unless you have a licence or permit, it is illegal to carry alcohol on a boat unless it is sealed or stowed in a closed container.