Ontario Impaired Boating Charges
Ontario impaired boating is an especially tricky area of law. Boats, for the purposes of this area of law, include a number of different things that you might not realize actually are boats, such as jet-skis, sail boards, row-boats or even some rafts. The interaction of provincial law and federal law is very important in impaired boating cases. The province legislates with regard to driver’s licences, alcohol and the police. The federal government legislates with regard to criminal matters, waterways and boating. The subtle interaction can be very confusing. But this confusion often leads to a defence in drinking and boating cases.
There are limited circumstances under which the police can stop a boat. The two main reasons are:
- for open alcohol in a moving vessel or
- to check on safety equipment.
However, the police must not use either of these reasons as a pretext to conduct further searches. They must genuinely be stopping the vessel for those reasons and only happen upon any other evidence by accident, not by design.
If you drink and boat, you stand to lose you driver’s licence for your car as well, even though if you drink and drive, you do not lose your boating licence. There is a certain unfairness about this that continues to be litigated before the Courts.
Drinking and boating charges can also result in harsher penalties now as prior drinking and boating charges that pre-date the recent change in the law that allows for driver’s licence suspensions, are sometimes being applied against someone by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario to justify longer losses of that person’s driver’s licence. As well, blowing in the “warn range” (50-80mg alc/100 ml of blood) while boating can also impact your driver’s licence.
Given these changes in the law, any charges while boating have the potential to hugely impact your driver’s licence, your insurance and your life.