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Avoid charges of intoxicated boating

Calgary residents who would never consider drinking and then attempting to drive may be more sanguine about having a few beers on their boat with friends out on the lakes or rivers around the city. But the consequences of alcohol use and boating can be every bit as severe as those for impaired driving on land.

Intoxicated boaters can expect to face arrest and prosecution for drinking while boating, as it is illegal to have open alcohol containers on your vessel. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, intoxicated boaters face charges of Impaired Operation of a Vessel if their blood alcohol levels exceed .08 per cent, or 80 mg of alcohol for each 100 ml of blood. Those who get convicted can expect the judge to suspend their boating privileges. Additional penalties for drunken boating include:

-- 1st offence: Minimum fines of $600

-- 2nd offence: Jail time of at least two weeks

-- 3rd and subsequent offences: Sentences vary

According to the Red Cross, 37 per cent of Canadian boaters admit they consume alcohol each time they set out in their boats, and another 66 per cent report imbibing alcohol occasionally while boating. Meanwhile, alcohol factors into more than 40 per cent of all deaths from recreational boating accidents.

Follow these tips for safer boating in Calgary:

-- Wear life jackets.

-- All boaters need to learn how to swim, including small children.

-- Keep youngsters within your grasp around water.

-- Before embarking in your boat, assess the weather and water conditions to make sure it's safe.

-- File a boating plan with someone on shore.

If you wind up arrested for impaired boating, you will need to aggressively mount your defence against the charges put forth by the Crown.

Source: The City of Calgary, "Water Safety," accessed Sep. 01, 2016

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