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List of Dangerous Boating Offences and Fines

February 23, 2022

There are laws in place that govern the behaviour of pleasure craft operators on Canadian waters. Their purpose is to keep waterways safe for everyone who uses them. Boaters who contravene these laws may find themselves facing fines or imprisonment, depending on the severity of the infraction.

In this article, Drive a Boat Canada presents a list of offences and fines for dangerous boating behaviour.

Boating offences under the Criminal Code

The following dangerous boating behaviours constitute criminal offences under the Criminal Code of Canada and may be punishable by fines or imprisonment.

  • It is an offence to operate a vessel in a way that is dangerous to the public. This includes boating too close to other vessels, going at dangerously high speeds and failing to slow down in conditions where visibility is reduced.
  • It is an offence to operate a vessel while consuming or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • It is an offence to tow someone after dark or without a spotter. Towing is prohibited from one hour past sunset until sunrise because other boaters may not be able to see the person being towed. When towing, there must always be a spotter facing aft and keeping watch over the person being towed.
  • It is an offence to fail to stop and offer assistance in the event of a collision. Whether you are involved in an accident with another vessel or simply happen upon a collision, you are required to offer what assistance you can without compromising your own safety.
  • It is an offence to fail to comply with a demand made by an enforcement officer. These demands may include boarding and inspecting the vessel, making sure safety requirements are met and asking for your boating licence and ID.
  • It is an offence to send false distress signals, because rescue teams that respond are then unavailable for any real emergencies that may occur.
  • It is an offence to knowingly operate a vessel that is unseaworthy. Characteristics that make a vessel unseaworthy include, but are not limited to: a damaged hull or one that is inappropriate for the type of boating being done, an engine that does not meet requirements, a vessel that is overloaded and equipment that is not in good working order.
  • It is an offence to interfere with navigation aids (e.g. concealing, removing or altering them). This includes tying up to or near a boating buoy, because you could accidentally drag it away from its position or conceal it from other vessels.
  • It is an offence to operate a vessel while disqualified or prohibited from doing so.

Fines under the Contraventions Regulations

In addition to criminal offences, there are other boating offences that are subject to fines under the Contraventions Regulations. These include:

Offences Fines
Operating a vessel while underage $250 +
Operating a vessel without a pleasure craft operator card on board $250 +
Altering, defacing or removing the serial number on the boat hull $350 +
Operating a boat in a careless manner, without consideration for others $350 +
Operating a vessel without boating safety equipment that is readily accessible and in good working order $200 +
Not having enough approved PFDs/lifejackets on board

($200 + $100 for every PFD/lifejacket missing)

$200 +

$100 +

Operating a boat without a working muffler in good condition $250 +


Drive a Boat Canada: boat in compliance with the law

It’s important to be familiar with the boating laws that are in place so that you can operate your vessel safely and in compliance with regulations. Find out more by taking Drive a Boat Canada’s boating safety course, and pass our online boating exam to obtain your pleasure craft operator card!