Looking forward to going boating this weekend? Great! But remember that drinking and boating are a bad mix and alcohol can severely impair your judgement – even after just one drink! Not only that, but the sun, wind, and the motions of the boat can add to your impairment and decrease your motor skills. Being caught operating your vessel impaired comes with various penalties that can even include losing your driver’s license. Don’t put yourself and your loved ones at risk by being a safe and sober captain.
In New Brunswick, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) will treat cases of drunk boating the same that they would drunk driving. Operating a vessel with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher is a criminal offence in New Brunswick; even individuals with a lesser BAC but who are driving in an unsafe manner can be criminally charged. Operating anything from a canoe to a powerboat can land Canadians with a minimum fine of $600 on their first offence, and subsequent offences will increase fines, add jail time, and could lead the operator to lose their license to operate on land, water or in the air.
- 1st offence: Minimum $600 fine
- 2nd offence: Minimum $600 fine, 14 days in prison
- 3rd and subsequent offence: Minimum $600 fine, 90 days in prison
Like most of Canada, it is also illegal to carry open alcohol on board while the vehicle is underway. It is permitted for passengers – not the captain – to consume alcohol on a vessel, so long as a few requirements are met. If the boat in question is moored to a dock or shore and has permanent sleeping, cooking, and toilet facilities the passengers are permitted to consume alcohol. When preparing to leave the moorage and head back home, it is the captain’s responsibility to make sure that the passengers are done drinking and have disposed of their containers appropriately. This is very important, because if you are caught with open alcohol – even if it’s a half empty can that Joe Boater didn’t want to finish at the moorage – you face a $172.50 fine.
In New Brunswick we love going boating, but the water can only be fully enjoyed when both the captain and their passengers are safe. You should never risk their safety for a drink – you can always wait until you’re back on solid ground. Questions about drinking and boating on New Brunswick’s waters should be directed at the RCMP, they will be able to give in-depth information about the fines and associated penalties.