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It is that time of year that we all look forward to and, this year, probably more than ever, after restricted activity during the pandemic.

Thankfully it has started off to be a gloriously sunny summer and as we make our way through Ottawa, we see its residents soaking up and enjoying the outdoors as we all should.

Many locals also head to their cottages and boating season is well underway.  We want all of our clients to enjoy the waterways but have a few safety reminders we would like to share as every summer we are consulted by many people injured in boating activities.

First and foremost don’t forget that operating any boat under the influence of alcohol is a federal offence.

First and foremost don’t forget that operating any boat under the influence of alcohol is a federal offence. Many people who would never drive a car after drinking alcohol don’t think twice about combining boating and alcohol. The legal limit for drinking and driving is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%g/dL. The same is true for operating a boat and the rule applies to any boat including a canoe, kayak, stand up paddleboard or rowboat. Anyone found operating a boat while impaired can face an on the spot vehicle drivers license suspension, with additional suspension if convicted.

In addition, all operators of a boat have a legal obligation to transport their passengers with reasonable care and without impairment. You may face civil responsibility should you breach that obligation and someone is injured.

Secondly, life jackets save lives. Every summer, hundreds of Canadians drown while boating and the majority of them never expected to be in the water. Waves hit, drivers shift direction too quickly or other accidental events take place.  A life jacket lying in the boat is of no assistance if you end up in the water unconscious.  Wear a jacket and make sure your passengers do as well.  A few years ago, I was travelling in an aluminium boat at night with my children when we came upon two moose swimming alongside our boat.  It was a fantastic Canadian sight but also a reminder to be prepared for the unexpected while on the water.

So save your drinks for the beach and buy yourself a nice new life jacket.  We wish you a safe and happy summer.


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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