Impaired boating is the same as impaired driving: Keep safety in mind on roadways and waterways

TORONTO, Aug. 5, 2008 – 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 1996 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.

“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,” says Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley. “One life lost to drinking and boating is one too many.”

“Impaired driving costs lives,” says Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Rick Bartolucci. “Whether on our roads or waterways, I urge everyone to be sensible and avoid the risks associated with alcohol.”

“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,” says Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving (OCCID) Executive Director Anne Leonard.


  • 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.
  • 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)(
  • 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.


For more information, visit the Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving’s “Impaired Boating is Impaired Driving” ( web page.

Read the Ministry of Transportation’s Summer Guide To Safe Driving ( for safety tips to keep in mind on the roads and waterways.