Driver or passenger, RCMP can fine you for drinking on your boat

To drink on a boat in B.C. it must be licensed or have sleeping accommodations, cooking facilities and a toilet.

Just ahead of the B.C. Day long weekend an Okanagan woman is warning her fellow boaters to not crack a beer onboard, unless they’re willing to get a costly ticket.

Lorraine Dauenhauer says while recently out on the water, police officers pulled up and advised her and her friends that unless the boat had a permanent cooking facility and a bed— like a houseboat or a yacht—a boat operator could be fined $250 for anyone who is drinking on board. That means it’s not just the captain of the boat who has to stay booze-free — all her passengers have to, as well.

All of this is contrary to popular belief and what the authorities have previously stated.

In the past, RCMP have said that a person is allowed to have alcohol onboard a boat, as a boat is considered a private place.

RELATED: Reserve constables patrol Okanagan Lake

But police note that several boats tied together creates a “public space”; therefore, alcohol is not permitted in this circumstance.

According to Julie Leroux with Transport Canada, boaters can also be fined $230 for consuming or possessing liquor in an open container in a public place and $115 for public intoxication under the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Act.

In regards to drinking on a boat without a permanent cooking or sleeping facility, Leroux said under B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Act alcohol can be consumed on the deck or in the cabin if the boat is licensed or is a boat that the public does not have access to with sleeping accommodations, cooking facilities and a toilet.

RELATED: 5 things to remember if hitting the water this long weekend

A special event permit license is the only license that can be purchased for vessels according to the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Act.

The following must also be met:

  • The applicant for the licence has entered into a contract to moor the vessel at a dock located in British Columbia for a period satisfactory to the general manager, or owns a dock located in British Columbia at which the vessel will be moored
  • Unless the vessel is exempt from the requirements of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the crew and captain of the vessel hold the appropriate certification under that Act and the vessel is registered under and complies with the requirements of that Act

Leroux also emphases that it is a criminal offence to drive a boat or vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Operators with more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood can be fined $1,000 for the first offence, 30 days in jail for the second offence and 120 days in jail for a third offence.

“A boat’s operator may also be charged with careless operation under Transport Canada’s Small Vessel Regulations, which came into force 40 years ago,” stated Leroux. “The penalty for this offence is $350 plus court costs.”


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jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

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