It’s hard to resist boating when you live in a beautiful province with thousands of lakes and an ocean on your doorstep.British Columbians love boating and know how to be safe and responsible boaters – that includes never risking the safety of others by choosing to drink and boat. It is the responsibility of the captain to understand and follow the rules around drinking and boating to keep our waterways safe.

Let’s start off by clarifying that in British Columbia there is no difference between drinking and driving and drinking and boating. Any operator found to be driving their vessel with a Blood Alcohol Level of more than 0.08 is subject to punishment in accordance with the Criminal Code of Canada. Each subsequent offence will come with a more severe consequence as follows. It is important to note that in British Columbia, offenders may receive both a fine and imprisonment (Motor Vehicle Act, Section 224).

  • 1st time offence: Minimum $1,000 fine, minimum 7 days’ imprisonment
  • 2nd time offence: Minimum $1,000 fine, minimum 30 days’ imprisonment
  • 3rd time offence: Minimum $1,000 fine, minimum 120 days’ imprisonment.

There are circumstances in which passengers on a boat – never the operator – may consume alcohol, but the captain must ensure that their boat meets certain requirements. If your boat has permanent cooking and sleeping facilities, a permanent toilet, and is docked or moored to shore, alcohol may be open and consumed by all but the captain. Before leaving your moorage, it is your responsibility to check that all passengers have finished their open alcohol – avoid the fines by knowing the rules.

Enjoying British Columbia is easy when you’re on the water. It becomes even easier to enjoy the province when you know that the waters are safe. It is always a good idea to brush up on your knowledge of boating rules and safety. The only way you can be a safe and responsible boater is by knowing and following the rules. If you have questions about the rules in your area or have concerns about the fines, direct them to the RCMP who will be able to give in-depth information on your area’s laws. Refresh your knowledge on boating, safety, rules and regulations and associated penalties here. 

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