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Impaired Boating Is The Same As Impaired Driving

Archived News Release

Impaired Boating Is The Same As Impaired Driving

Keep Safety In Mind On Roadways And Waterways

Ministry of Transportation

Whether you drive a boat or a car, in Ontario the same penalties apply if you foolishly drink and drive and put people's lives at risk.

Between 1995 and 2005, more than 133 people were killed in boating incidents in Ontario where alcohol was involved.

In 2006 the McGuinty government extended Ontario's tough penalties for drinking and driving to boat operators:

  • Immediate car driver's licence suspension for 90 days if a boat operator has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08 BAC or fails to provide a breath sample. Upon conviction, a suspension could extend from one year to a lifetime.
  • Mandatory alcohol assessment, plus driver education and treatment.
  • Installation of ignition interlock on the impaired driver's vehicle for a period of time after licence reinstatement.

Drivers and boaters with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.05 BAC but below the legal limit also face an immediate 12-hour driver's licence suspension.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario's drinking and boating law also applies to the operation of motorized watercraft such as jet skis and non-motorized boats such as canoes, kayaks and inflatable rafts.
  • Between 1990 and 2005, impaired driving fatalities in Ontario dropped nearly 50 per cent. However, about one quarter of Ontario's road fatalities continue to be alcohol-related.
  • Drowning is the most common boating injury associated with alcohol, accounting for about 40 per cent of boating deaths. Just over half of all drownings occur over weekends. (Source: Lifesaving Society 2008 Drowning Report)

Additional Resources


“Whether you are on the road or on the water, you must be able to react quickly and make sudden decisions to keep yourself and your passengers safe. Alcohol interferes with your abilities and puts everyone at risk. One life lost to drinking and boating is one too many.”

Jim Bradley

Minister of Transportation

“Impaired driving costs lives. Whether on our roads or waterways, I urge everyone to be sensible and avoid the risks associated with alcohol. Let's all be safe this holiday weekend.”

Rick Bartolucci

Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services

“OCCID reminds drivers and boaters that the consequences for impaired driving and boating are significant and include long licence suspensions, costly increases to insurance premiums, a criminal record, and remedial measures and ignition interlock as part of the reinstatement process. Please plan a safe ride home this holiday weekend.”

Anne Leonard

Executive Director, Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving (OCCID)

“A boating tragedy can happen anywhere and to anyone. It is important to be well prepared for your boating excursion whether it's a few days or a few hours. Drinking and boating is just as wrong as drinking and driving. We want to see everyone have a good time but do so safely.”

Julian Fantino

OPP Commissioner



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