MyBoatCard.com® | Official Canadian Boating License

Can You Drink on a Boat in Alberta?

Alcohol Laws Boating AlbertaIn Alberta many people enjoy spending time on the water with friends and family. Whether you’re cruising or sailing, it’s important to be aware of the laws surrounding alcohol consumption on boats in Alberta.

In this article, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about drinking on boats in Alberta and explain the rules and penalties for violating them.

Table of Contents

Can You Drink on a Boat in Alberta?

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is a criminal offence to operate a boat while intoxicated. The degree of intoxication is measured using either a breathalyzer or a blood test, with the maximum allowable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) being 80 mg per 100 ml (0.08%).

Every province has also established its own legislation regarding alcohol use while boating.

Alberta Alcohol and Boating Laws

Under the  Criminal Code of Canada, both the operator of the vessel and the passengers are prohibited from consuming alcohol while the boat is in motion.

In the following scenarios, open alcoholic containers are allowed on board:

  • The boat has a cooking and sleeping area
  • There is a standalone washroom on the boat (a portable mobile toilet does not count)
  • The boat is moored to the dock or is at anchor.

It’s also important to note that consuming alcohol on a boat can be dangerous, as alcohol can impair your judgment and make it more difficult to react to unexpected situations on the water.

Can the Operator of the Boat Drink in Alberta?

Vessel operators as well as passengers may legally consume alcohol or cannabis on-board a boat if it is equipped with:

  • Permanent cooking facilities.
  • Permanent sleeping facilities.
  • Permanent head (toilet); and
  • The boat is at anchor, secured alongside a dock or beached

The vessel operator must NOT be impaired by the time the vessel is ready to depart from being at anchor, docked or beached.

Can You Drink on a Boat If You're Only a Passenger?

Passengers on boats in Alberta are allowed to consume alcohol, but only a small amount as they still have to be below the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 80 mg per 100 ml (0.08%).

Passengers are prohibited from consuming alcohol while the boat is in motion and can only consume alcohol on the boat if:

  • The boat has a cooking and sleeping area
  • There is a standalone washroom on the boat (a portable mobile toilet does not count)
  • The boat is moored to the dock or is at anchor.

Can Police Stop and Search Your Boat for Alcohol in Alberta?

Alberta Boating Alcohol EnforcementYes, police officers (enforcement officers) in Alberta have the power to stop and search boats for alcohol. If you’re stopped by the police, you’ll be required to provide identification and proof of ownership of the boat. 

The police may also ask to search the boat for alcohol or other illegal substances. If they find alcohol that is not being transported or consumed in compliance with Canada’s Criminal Code, you could be fined and face other penalties.

Enforcement officers may:

  • Ask for ID;
  • Ask for proof of competency (permanent or temporary PCOC);
  • Ask any pertinent questions;
  • Board your vessel; and
  • Examine a vessel and its equipment.

An enforcement officer can be:

  • A member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP);
  • A member of the harbour or river police;
  • A member of provincial, county or municipal police force; and
  • Any person designated by Transport Canada.

What are the Fines for Drinking Alcohol on a Boat in Alberta?

Alberta has Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS) that apply to impaired driving under the Traffic Safety Act. The penalties for operating a boat and operating a car under the influence are the same.

The minimum penalties for operating a boat under the influence in Alberta include:

BAC 0.05 to 0.08:

  • 1stoffence: A $300 fine plus victim fine surcharge of 20%, immediate 3-day license suspension and 3-day vehicle seizure
  • 2ndoffence: A $600 fine plus victim fine surcharge of 20%, immediate 15-day license suspension and 7-day vehicle seizure, remedial education through the Crossroads course
  • 3rdoffence: A $1,200 fine plus victim fine surcharge of 20%, immediate 30-day license suspension and 7-day vehicle seizure, must complete the Government of Alberta’s IMPACT program

BAC 0.08 and over:

  • 1stoffence: Immediate 2-stage, fixed-term driver’s licence suspension consisting of 2 distinct parts:
  1. 90 days where you are unable to drive under any circumstances
  2. further 12 month driver’s licence suspension:
    1. During this 12 month suspension period, you may participate in Alberta’s IRS: FAIL Ignition Interlock Program and operate a vehicle equipped with an interlock device. If you choose not to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program, your licence will remain suspended, and you cannot legally drive.
  • 2ndoffence: Immediate 2-stage, fixed-term driver’s licence suspension consisting of 2 distinct parts:
    1. 90 days where you are unable to drive under any circumstances
    2. further 36-month driver’s licence suspension:
  • Complete the IMPACT Program.
  • 30-day vehicle seizure.
  • $2,000 fine plus victim fine surcharge of 20%.
  • If you receive criminal-level impaired charges and convicted, the court will also impose additional penalties.
  • 3rdoffence: Immediate 2-stage, fixed-term driver’s licence suspension consisting of 2 distinct parts:
    1. 90 days where you are unable to drive under any circumstances
    2. further lifetime driver’s licence suspension:
      • During this suspension period, you may participate in Alberta’s IRS: FAIL Ignition Interlock Program and operate a vehicle equipped with an interlock device. If you choose not to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program, your licence will remain suspended, and you cannot legally drive.
      • Provided you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply for driver’s licence reinstatement and removal of the interlock requirement after 10 years. An application does not guarantee a removal of the lifetime suspension.
  • 30-day vehicle seizure
  • $2,000 fine plus victim fine surcharge of 20%
  • If you receive criminal-level impaired charges and convicted, the court will also impose additional penalties.


THC 2ng-4.9ng:

  • Minimum fine of $1000 per offence

THC over 5ng or combination 50mg BAC+2.5ng THC:

  • 1st offence – minimum fine of $1,000
  • 2nd offence – minimum of 30 days in jail
  • 3rd offence – minimum of 120 days in jail

Please think about the seriousness of these penalties before you ever drink and boat.

Can You Transport Alcohol on a Boat in Alberta?

Yes, it is legal to transport alcohol on a boat as long as it is either sealed or stowed away in a closed container.

Can You Have Closed Alcohol on a Boat in Alberta?

Yes, boaters are allowed to have unopened containers of alcohol on their boats in Alberta, but there are still rules about how it must be transported and consumed. Unopened containers of alcohol must be stored in a secure area, such as a locked cabinet or cooler.

Can You Drink Beer and Fish on a Boat?

Passengers can drink a small amount of alcohol on a boat in Alberta (Blood Alcohol Concentration below .08%) if the boat:

  • has a cooking and sleeping area
  • has a standalone washroom on the boat (a portable mobile toilet does not count)
  • is moored to the dock or is at anchor.

It’s important to remember that drinking and fishing can be a dangerous combination. Alcohol can impair your judgment and reaction time, making it more difficult to react to changing conditions on the water. In addition, fishing requires concentration and focus, which can be compromised by alcohol consumption. If you’re planning to fish on a boat, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether.

Cannabis / Marijuana on a Boat in Alberta

In addition to alcohol, it’s important to be aware of the rules surrounding cannabis use on boats in Alberta.

Since 2018, cannabis has been legalized and regulated under the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45). The regulations are similar to those for alcohol, such as restrictions on carrying cannabis on a boat unless it is being used as a temporary or permanent living space, and prohibiting the consumption of cannabis (through smoking, vaping, or eating) in a moving vehicle or boat.

Boaters can be subject to drug recognition techniques to establish their impairment status by law enforcement officials. They may also be asked to submit a blood, urine, or oral fluid sample for testing.

  • THC concentration of 2-5 nanograms per ml of blood could result in a fine of up to $1,000.
  • THC concentration exceeding 5 nanograms per ml of blood (or above 2.5 nanograms coupled with a blood alcohol concentration over 50 milligrams)  could be subjected to both fines and jail time.

Alcohol and Boating Deaths in Alberta

More than 40% of recreational boating deaths are caused by alcohol consumption. Alcohol intensifies the effect of fatigue, sun, wind, and boat motion to adversely affect balance, judgment and reaction time. Even one drink will affect you, so please leave the booze out of the boat.

Follow the Alberta boating and alcohol laws and stay safe on the water. Remember that the rules for legal alcohol and cannabis consumption and transport vary by province and territory. The minimum fines and penalties also vary by province, so always check with the local authorities before heading out on the water if you are visiting other provinces and territories.

Be Safe, Get Certified.

Alberta Boater LicenseIt is illegal to operate a powered boat in Alberta without a boating license (or other proof of competency), and the fines for doing so can be significant.  Additionally, obtaining a boating license is a good way to ensure that you are operating your boat safely and responsibly.

By completing a boating safety course and obtaining your boating license, you can gain the knowledge and skills needed to operate a boat safely, protect yourself and others, and avoid costly fines. If you want to test your knowledge – why not try out the free Alberta boating license practice test.

With the convenience and affordability of MyBoatCard.com’s online course, there is no reason not to get your boating license today. 

Join the over 2 million certified Canadians, and get your boating license in Alberta today!

TRY IT.
FREE.

Boating License PCOC

Transport Canada approved Boater Safety Course is free.
Take the course in your own time and risk free.

Other providers try to get you to pay upfront before you even have a chance to try out their course!

Accredited Logo
Transport Canada
330 Sparks Street, Ottawa
Ontario, Canada. K1A 0N8

OVER  2,000,000
CERTIFIED
CANADIANS

Boating License PCOC

TRANSPORT CANADA.
ACCREDITED.

MyBoatCard.com® is accredited by Transport Canada to deliver boating safety courses and administer tests for the issuance of Pleasure Craft Operator Cards, including replacement cards, under the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations.

GO BOATING.
TODAY.

Boating License PCOC