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Hamilton Police to target impaired boaters during long weekend safety blitz

Hamilton Police Marine Unit conducting safety checks.
Hamilton Police Marine Unit conducting safety checks. Sara Cain, 900 CHML

The Hamilton Police Marine Unit is once again using the August long weekend as an opportunity to promote safe boating.

It will mark the sixth year of a campaign called Operation Dry Water.

READ MORE: Lifesaving Society says there’s ‘no room’ to add more boating deaths due to pot

“We know that about 40 per cent of boating incidents across Canada are related to alcohol,” said Const. Ben Rushton. “Another concern, as well, is drug impaired boating, especially with the impending legalization of marijuana.”

There have been no impaired boating arrests so far this summer but Rushton says a couple tickets have been issued under the liquor license act.

“Police on our waterways have the same powers and authority as we do on the roadways so that would include doing ride spot checks and alcohol screening devices on the water,” he said.

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Over the long weekend, the marine unit will be actively stopping dozens of vessels travelling through the harbour and into Lake Ontario.

Spot checks will also be conducted at the marina and boat launch locations.

“We’re checking to make sure they have their life jacket, their boaters card and any other safety equipment that’s required.”

When such required things are missing, Rushton says the marine unit will be providing education. It can also lead to fines.

Tickets on the water pertaining to safety equipment start around $240. Liquor being unlawfully consumed comes with fines between $125 and $165. Driving a boat while impaired can lead to thousands in fines on top of criminal charges.

READ MORE: Most boating and drowning deaths involve drinking, says Lifesaving Society

In the Hamilton area, Rushton says compliance is generally high, yet Canada-wide statistics seem to stay the same when it comes to boating fatalities related to alcohol.

“That number, 40 per-cent, seems to be consistent and the goal would be that the number would go down and we would increase awareness around it.”

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