The Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) is running Operation Dry Water August long weekend to teach people the risks of boating impaired and the consequences.
According to CSBC Director Ian Gilson, alcohol is involved in 40 per cent of incidents on the water.
“We’re up to 58 boating related fatalities for 2017, 20 more than last year at this time,” Gilson said. “You figure in 40 per cent of that, that’s a huge number.”
Gilson believes that because taking beer out on the lake is so ingrained in our culture people don’t think twice about drinking while behind the controls.
“There’s going to be a lot of instances where people are out there consuming alcohol either before or while they’re out there on the water, so it’s a dangerous mix,” he said.
There are some exceptions to the rule of not drinking alcohol on boats.
Information on the CSBC website shows that open containers are allowed on boats that have sleep facilities, a washroom and kitchen.
Even if boats meet those qualifications it must be at anchor or docked before passengers can drink.
The RCMP has been involved in the campaign since it started in 2013 and said the penalties for impaired boating is similar to driving under the influence.
“If an operator is detected to be operating a vessel with a blood alcohol level over .08 they could be charged criminally, have their boating privileges suspended and receive a significant fine and or potentially custodial sentence or jail time based on the circumstances and their record,” Staff Sgt. Jeff Simpson told 650 CKOM.