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Can You Drink on a Boat in Ontario?

Alcohol Laws Boating OntarioIn Ontario 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 Ontario.

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

Table of Contents

Can You Drink on a Boat in Ontario?

In Ontario boat passengers may legally consume alcohol if their boat is:

  1. Equipped with a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, and sleeping area; and
  2. Anchored or docked (not in motion)

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%).

Contact the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in Ontario.

Ontario Alcohol and Boating Laws

Under the Ontario Liquor License Act, an opened container of alcohol is prohibited on board a boat (except for the scenarios outlined below). It is the same as a motor vehicle. Both the operator of the vessel and the passengers are prohibited from consuming alcohol while the boat is in motion.

Passengers can only consume alcohol and have open containers on board if:

  • The boat has permanent cooking and sleeping facilities; and
  • There is a permanent toilet on the boat (a portable mobile toilet does not count); and
  • The boat is moored to the dock, beached, 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 Ontario?

Under Ontario law, the operator of a boat is not allowed to consume alcohol while the boat is in operation. This includes any type of boat, whether it’s a motorized vessel or a sailboat. If you’re caught operating a boat while impaired, you could face criminal charges and fines.

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

Passengers on boats in Ontario 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; and
  • There is a standalone washroom on the boat (a portable mobile toilet does not count); and
  • The boat is moored to the dock or is at anchor.

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

Ontario Boating Alcohol EnforcementYes, police officers (enforcement officers) in Ontario 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 or Ontario’s Liquor License Act, 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 Ontario?

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, the penalties for operating a boat and operating a car under the influence are the same.

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

  • 1st offence: at least One Thousand ($1,000) fine
  • 2nd offence: at least Thirty (30) days of imprisonment
  • 3rd offence: at least One Hundred Twenty (120) days of imprisonment

In Ontario, if you are convicted of boating under the influence you can also have both your boating license and your driving license suspended! Ontario’s Ignition Interlock Program may also be installed in your vehicle.

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

Can You Transport Alcohol on a Boat in Ontario?

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 Ontario?

Yes, boaters are allowed to have unopened containers of alcohol on their boats in Ontario, 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 Ontario (Blood Alcohol Concentration below .08%) if the boat if:

  • The boat has a cooking and sleeping area; and
  • There is a standalone washroom on the boat (a portable mobile toilet does not count); and
  • The boat 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 Ontario

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

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 Ontario

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 Ontario boating and alcohol laws and stay safe on the water.

Be Safe, Get Certified.

Ontario Boater LicenseIt is illegal to operate a powered boat in Ontario 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 Ontario boating license practice test.

With the convenience and affordability of’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 Ontario today!


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