With one of the last long weekends of the summer fast approaching, many people will be taking their boats out on the lake.
If you plan on drinking this weekend, feel free to do so. Just make sure to not do so while you are on any water craft whatsoever.
The laws are quite strict when it comes to drinking and boating, not to mention that you put yourself and others in very serious danger as well.
"It's just as illegal to drink and boat as it is to drink and drive," stated Shelby Rushton, CEO at Life Saving Society Saskatchewan. "You can be fined a heavy fine, a thousand dollars is the minimum. With a second offence, you could even go to jail. You could have your boat impounded, and you could also lose your license at the same time."
The Canadian Safe Boating Council is currently running a campaign named "Operation Dry Water". This is to bring awareness to the prevalent issue that law inforcement is constantly up against in Canada.
Alcohol is a factor in nearly 40 per cent of boating incidents in Canada. In Saskatchewan almost 88 per cent of swimming and boating fatalities involve alcohol. Many Canadians simply do not understand that there are intensifying factors such as sun, wind, waves and the rocking motion of the boat that can greatly increase the effects of alcohol on the water.
There are many vessels where drinking is simply not allowed, including boats without an engine. Open alcohol containers are only allowed on boats that are designed to be residences. This means they need to have sleeping facilities, washroom facilities and cooking facilities. On those types of boats drinking is only allowed when that boat is anchored, docked or on land. Drinking alcohol is never allowed while the vessel is in movement.
The laws surrounding when a boater is considered impaired mirrors provincial automobile driving laws. Some provinces have even put in place legislation that has impaired boating affecting the boaters’ rights to drive their automobile. In these cases, being charged on the water equals remedies on land. In provinces that have not enacted similar legislation, many boaters forget that having a few too many on the water may lead to being impaired while driving home.
"We know that alcohol does impair our judgement," added Rushton.
So we might not be following the rules of the waterways, we might not see a boat coming, or we could also lose our balance and fall overboard. Which could then lead to drowning. The law includes everyone on the boat, not just the driver."
So if you plan on boating this weekend, do so without the alcohol.
Below are the links to the Operation Dry Water promotional videos courtesy of the Canadian Safe Boating Council.
The first video is called Impaired Boating is Criminal - Angler. Next in the same series we have Impaired Boating is Criminal - The Deli. Then we have Alcohol - The Cost of Drinking. A good watch is The Pete Crompton Story. Then we've got Alcohol Rules, Bill 209, and the last video is Drinking & Boating Experiment.
Be safe during your long weekend, whether you're on the water or on dry land.