Is a criminal record, losing your driver's licence, and significantly increased auto insurance premiums worth it?

If like many Canadians, you own or know someone that owns a cottage, there's a good chance you'll have any opportunity to enjoy some time on the many lakes and rivers we're blessed with in Canada. But be careful, because your behaviour on the water could have an impact on your land life, and more specifically, your ability to drive home.

Most Canadians understand the potentially fatal consequences of drinking and driving. Yet, many people who would never consider getting behind the wheel of their car impaired don't think twice about operating a boat after a few too many drinks. Whatever the reason, the fact is, according to Transport Canada cruising and boozing (whether on land or water) is illegal and punishable under the Criminal Code. Convictions for a first offence can result in heavy punishment: penalties are no less than $600, prohibition from operating a vessel could be up to three years and imprisonment could be for life! On top of these Federal rules, provinces and territories have their own set too.

Take Ontario for example. Ontario has some of the toughest laws in North America regarding drinking and boating. In the spring of 2006, the Government of Ontario implemented stiff penalties for people who drink and boat in an attempt to make boaters take sober boating seriously. Under this law, the same penalties imposed for drinking and driving automobiles, snowmobiles and all terrain vehicles now apply to boaters. So, in addition to a criminal record, a boater could have ALL of their motor vehicle licences suspended for a year too. With a DUI on a person's record and a licence suspension, it's likely a person convicted of boating under the influence will see their auto insurance premiums rise significantly as well.

Just look at the devastating effect these charges could have on the quotes you get for your auto insurance premiums. Auto insurance quotes, from competing insurance companies, were obtained online in May, 2007 from using a 35-year old driver of a 2005 Toyota Corolla in Toronto.

Clean driving record 1 year licence suspension and DUI conviction Total extra premium paid over 6 year period after a DUI suspension and conviction
$975 $6000 $18,804

If you've got 5 minutes - generate a few comparison quotes on and add in a DUI conviction to see the impact on your insurance rate. It will be a sobering experience.

Don't miss the boat!

Play it smart this summer. If you plan to party away from home -- and this includes on the water -- be sure to appoint a designated driver. What ever you do, don't get behind the wheel if you've been drinking - you face hurting yourself, hurting others out enjoying the water, a criminal conviction and significant financial repercussions - of which increased auto insurance premiums will be a part.

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