There’s little that goes together as well as summertime and beer. You’re out at the cabin with a few friends, the sun is up, you’re feeling good, you’ve enjoyed a breakfast beverage and you’re thinking about going out on the lake, to lazily drift about, maybe catch some fish. What many folks don’t realize is that after a couple of beers, you might not be able to pilot that boat legally; in fact, boating while under the influence carries with it the same penalties as driving under the influence.

For some time, there was a bit of confusion about boating while under the influence, because the traditional term “vessel” did not include human-powered boats like canoes. Let’s clear up the confusion: you can’t operate a boat while drunk, whether it’s a yacht or a kayak. As for whether or not you can have open liquor in a boat, so passengers can enjoy it, the rules vary from province to province. In Manitoba, the laws regarding the transportation of liquor and cannabis can be found under the Liquor, Gaming, and Cannabis Control Act. A review of this act shows that open liquor is not permitted on boats in Manitoba; if liquor is open, it must be stored in a closed container on the boat. That means no drinks on the boat for anyone.

You probably noticed a reference to cannabis in that last paragraph; as you can probably guess, the rules that apply to liquor apply to cannabis as well. That means you can’t operate a boat while you’re high, and you can’t be smoking joints on the boat, even if you’re a passenger. We won’t review all of the rules about impaired driving here, but you should know there are very steep consequences for breaking impaired driving laws, including fines, jail time and a criminal record. Having open cannabis and liquor in your boat is not a breach of these impaired driving laws, but getting a bit high and having a couple of beers will definitely put you over the limit. Don’t risk it.

The penalties that come with impaired driving, or in this case, boating, aren’t limited to legal consequences imposed by the Government of Canada. Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) is the sole insurer of vehicles in Manitoba, and they will increase the price of your license, increase the price of your insurance, and impose mandatory ignition interlocks, license suspensions and Impaired Driver Assessments, some of which will be at your own cost. Boating under the influence is sufficient to impose these penalties on your driver’s license, so be very cautious; don’t boat while impaired.

Should you face consequences for boating while impaired, you’ll want a recognized Winnipeg criminal lawyer on your side. The consequences for impaired boating can be dire, when many people don’t even realize there are rules against having open liquor in a canoe. A defense attorney understands the murky waterways of the legal system, and will help you get the best results in your case.