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.