'Booze Cruise' Rules, Risks & Penalties

With many Canadians turning to cottage country for some much needed rest and relaxation, one common phrase that gets tossed around casual conversation in the north is the term, “booze cruise.” While it holds a playful and seemingly harmless connotation – drinking and boating is a combination that DOES NOT mix. 

In Canada, operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. You’re considered to be ‘impaired’ or ‘under the influence’ if you’re tested and the results determine that your Blood Alcohol Concentration level is in excess of 80mg. 65% of the boating-related accidents in Canada involve alcohol consumption as a factor.

When can you legally consume alcohol on a boat in Canada?

Boat passengers may legally consume alcohol on board a boat in Canada, so long as the boat is equipped with:

  • Permanent cooking facilities
  • Permanent sleeping facilities
  • A permanent toilet
  • The boat must be anchored or secured alongside a dock 

Most yachts and houseboats will meet these requirements, but not all boat types will. As the boat operator, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure your boat meets these requirements before any passengers crack open any beer or liquor. It is also your responsibility to stay sober to make sure everyone gets home safe.

If you’re convicted of operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the minimum penalties in Canada are:

  • 1st Offence: A minimum fine of $600
  • 2nd Offence: A minimum fine of $600 and at least 14 days in prison
  • 3rd or Subsequent Offence: A minimum fine of $600 and at least 90 days in prison
  • The MAXIMUM fines & penalties will vary province by province

Boating accidents are governed by marine law, which means you need a lawyer that understands the complexities of this law. If you have been injured in an accident that involves recreation watercraft, the lawyers at Harris Law can get compensation for you.