Boat Ownership in Ontario: Restrictions and Penalties

boat ownership in Ontario

The great thing about boating is that it is an activity that can be enjoyed by all. Taking your friends and family for a day out on the water can be a relaxing and fun event that gives you a rewarding sense of freedom. With that freedom, however, does come significant responsibility. Understanding the rules and restrictions that come with boat ownership in Ontario is an important aspect of boating safety. By knowing what you can and cannot do, you can avoid costly penalties and enjoy Ontario’s waters safely.

boat ownership in Ontario

Alcohol and Boating Can Be a Dangerous Mix

When you first bought a boat, you probably did so as a means to unwind from the stresses of your daily life. When you are out on the water fishing or swimming with your buddies, it may be tempting to have a beer or two. You should know that in Ontario operating your boat under the influence is illegal. Just as you would not drink and drive, you should never drink and boat. The penalties for doing so are actually the same as they would be for operating a motor vehicle while inebriated.

If a boater in Ontario has a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than 80 mg, they have exceeded the legal limit. The penalties for this can include a boating license suspension for at least one year, and the boat operator may need to install an ignition interlock breathalyzer device onboard.

There are some exceptions to having alcohol on a boat in Ontario. If your vessel has sleeping quarters, a bathroom, and a galley, beer, and other alcohol can be consumed while the boat is docked or anchored. There is also a special license you can get to clear your vessel for serving alcohol. You can learn more about this area of the law by contacting the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

Age Restrictions to Know for Boat Ownership in Ontario

Operating your boat in accordance with Ontario’s laws is paramount to the safety of you and your passengers. Another set of rules that would be prudent to have a grasp of is those regarding the ages of motorized vessel operators.

Anyone 12 years of age or younger, with supervision, can operate a motorized vessel that does not exceed 10 horsepower in engine output. These young operators must have some proof of competency. Individuals between 12 and 16 years of age can operate a boat unsupervised provided it does not exceed 40 horsepower. Those who are 16 and older can operate a boat unsupervised of any horsepower so long as they have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC).

Make Sure Your Documentation is Current

Beyond observing Ontario’s boating laws, you will also want to make sure that all of your vessel registration documents are up-to-date. Fortunately, the National Vessel Registry Center can help. We offer easy-to-fill online forms that cover your vessel’s initial registration and much more. Browse our site today to see how we can help you keep your boat’s documentation current.