Though it’s been a bit wet this summer, the weather is taking a turn for the better in the Lakeland. With the nicer weather comes more boats on the lakes, but that can also mean more people cracking open a cold one while they boat as well.
Drinking and boating accounts for approximately 40% of boating-related fatalities in Canada. To raise awareness and reduce alcohol related deaths, the Canadian Safe Boating Council is launching year 5 of an initiative called “Operation Dry Water.” Its’ goal is to discourage this dangerous practice.
“Alcohol is a common factor associated with drowning. Don’t enter the water if you have been drinking,” said Kelly Carter, Executive Director of the Lifesaving Society Alberta and Northwest Territories Branch. “Alcohol influences balance, coordination, and judgement, and its effects are heightened by sun exposure and heat, making it more difficult to get yourself out of trouble.”
“The CSBC, its partners and sponsors would like, through this and our other initiatives, to raise attention to the problem of boating under the influence and to remind boaters not to drink and boat,” stated John Gullick, Chair of the Canadian Safe Boating Council“. Operation Dry Water will focus on the potential risks of drinking and boating, and remedies that are currently in place to discourage it.
Federal statutes dictate that, whether or not your craft is motorized, you can be charged with Impaired Operation of a vessel under the Criminal Code of Canada if your blood alcohol level exceeds the .08 threshold. This means you can be charged even if you are impaired while operating a canoe and a judge is able upon conviction, suspend your boating privileges. But that’s not all; it can get worse. Some provinces have enacted legislation where drinking and boating can affect your automobile driving privileges. In Ontario, for example, Bill 209 amended the Highway Traffic Act to also apply to “anyone operating or having the care or control of a vessel”. As such, anyone found boating with a blood alcohol level above .05, faces an on-the-spot automobile drivers’ license suspension. Should the person’s blood alcohol concentration exceed .08, upon conviction, an additional suspension of up to one year can be applied.
Operation Dry Water is aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities on the water while fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use while boating. The end goal? To achieve safer and more enjoyable recreational boating.