Drinking alcohol on a boat in ontario

by CK

If you are planning on drinking alcohol on your boat, there are some rules you need to follow to make sure that you comply with the liquor license act in Ontario.

Rule #1, (private place): According to the liquor license act, you can consume liquor on a boat when the boat is deemed a private place. This occurs when all of the following criteria’s are met;

  • The boat is equipped with permanent sleeping, cooking and sanitary facilities;
  • The boat is at anchor or is secured to the dock or land; and
  • The boat is not used to carry passengers for hire.

As an added benefit the liquor license act states that if your boat is deemed a private place and the boat is secured to a dock or land to which the public is not ordinarily invited or permitted, then the dock or land is also considered to be a private place.

Rule #2, (liquor while underway): Section 32(3) of the liquor license act states that no person shall operate or have the care or control of a boat that is underway while there is contained in the boat any liquor unless;

  • the liquor is in a container that is unopened and the seal unbroken; or
  • the liquor is stored in a closed compartment.

simply put: having open alcohol while driving the boat, or when the boat is drifting is illegal unless you have a license or permit to do so. This includes passengers on the boat that are not driving. Monetary penalties for charges under the liquor license act for this section range from 150$ to 175$.

Police search powers: a Police officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that liquor is being unlawfully keep in a boat may at any time and without a warrant, enter and search the boat and search any person found in it.

To conclude: By following a few rules and if your vessel qualifies as a private place, you can drink alcohol on a boat in Ontario. For more information on laws relating to alcohol and boating, check out the laws relating to impaired boating in Canada.

Disclaimer: I have written this article for reference and information only. Although I make all attempts to ensure accuracy I cannot guarantee it or confirm that it will always be up to date. Please use this post “as is” and confirm all information yourselves. The following links will take you to the relevant acts of parliament. Liquor license act of Ontario. You can also check out my “terms of use” here.

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