Drinking and Boating

Boating is a great summertime activity. Whether you sail, use a jet-ski, or go motor-boating, a day on the water in the sun is almost always better than a day on land.

While boating is a great activity, the operation of a boat comes with significant responsibilities. Many boats are getting faster and more powerful. They need an operator that is trained, alert, and operating without having consumed alcohol or drugs in order to respond to and avoid hazards as they arise.

Unfortunately, drinking and boating remains an issue on the lakes and waterways of Ontario. Many boaters do not know the consequences of drinking and boating.

From a criminal perspective, a driver who is convicted of impaired operation of a boat, including a canoe, kayak, sailboat or motorboat, faces the same consequences as someone who is driving a car. They can lose their Ontario Driver’s License and face significant fines or even time in jail.

If you were involved in a collision while operating a boat under the influence of alcohol and the passengers on your boat or another boat were injured, additional criminal penalties would apply.

In addition to the criminal consequences of drinking and boating, there are potential civil law consequences. You can be sued for injuries caused to your passengers or passengers of other boats. While the law typically limits claims arising out of personal injuries sustained in boat collisions to $1,000,000.00 for each boat involved, in the case where reckless behavior, such as drinking, is involved there is no such limitation. A significant lawsuit could put your home, cottage, or other assets at risk.

Drinking and boating is never worth the risk. Boat sober and enjoy a happy and safe boating season.

Click here to learn about Oatley Vigmond’s 2016 Summer Water Safety Contest!

About the Authors


The son of a grocery store clerk, Kevin grew up outside of Perth, Ontario. He credits his humble beginnings with the development of his underdog mentality, an approach he has carried into his legal career.

He attended McMaster University for two years before being granted early admission to Osgoode Hall Law School. After being called to the bar in 2008, Kevin began practising law in Hamilton before joining a leading Toronto litigation firm, representing Canada’s largest insurance companies on personal injury actions. “I didn’t find it fulfilling,” Kevin recalls. “I was helping companies save money, when what I wanted to do was help the people going up against these major corporations.” Since joining Oatley Vigmond, Kevin has used his insurance-industry experience to protect his clients and recover the compensation they deserved. He’d been at Oatley Vigmond for two months when he settled a matter for a client at a mediation. “You felt the burden of the litigation, and her injuries, lifting off her. I wanted to help even more people experience the relief of having their uncertainty lifted.’”

To learn more about Kevin, please click here.