Can You Get A DUI On A Kayak?

people drinking on the dock

Do you pack a six pack of beer in your dry bag when you’re heading out on the lake or river with your kayak? And are you ever worried about getting ticketed for a DUI (driving under the influence) if you drink a little too much?

I know, it’s sounds crazy right? If you can’t get a little drunk in your kayak, then why the heck can you get ticketed for it? I mean, it’s not like you’re behind the wheel of a car.

When I first heard someone mention that drinking and kayaking can result in a DUI on your record, honestly, I thought they were crazy. But after doing a bit of research on my own, I learned the truth.

Yes, you can get a DUI while kayaking!

I know, it’s mental, right? Let me tell you why this can happen so that you’re better prepared for it.

Is That Really The Law?

Though it varies from state to state, and from country to country, in most places the law is pretty opened ended. And that means that a cop on a power trip can interpret it however he wants…and you can end up with a DUI.

Even though DUI laws generally refer to motorized vehicles, some cops are given the ability to interpret that however they want to do so.

In some places, the police cannot legally give you a DUI due the lack of a motor on the kayak — but they can cite you with a BUI, or boating under the influence.

A BUI can apply to any watercraft the authorities deem a “vessel.”

There are even a few places where the po-po can’t cite you with a DUI or a BUI. But don’t start celebrating yet cause the pigs in those areas can (and often will) arrest you for public intoxication.

If you want to know what to expect in your specific location, then you’ll have to do some research on your own for that. But I can help you get started by showing you how the laws differ by general location.

United States Kayak DUI Laws

Here’s what you need to know about getting drunk on your kayak in the USA – the laws vary by state and they are all vague. That means the cops can interpret the law however they want to.

That being said, it is illegal to drink alcohol and operate a boat in every US state.

Is a kayak considered a boat? That varies by state too.

Thinking about drinking and kayaking in the USA? Then check out the boating laws for your state here.

Canada Kayak DUI Laws

If you’re in the land of maple syrup and Tim Horton’s, then you’re probably not gonna want to take that beer out in the kayak.

You see, in Canada a kayak is classified as a “vessel” and a “vessel” falls under Canadian motor vehicle DUI laws.

If you get stopped in Canada under suspicion of boating while drinking, then your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level cannot exceed 80 mg.

Getting a DUI in your kayak in Canada is serious. You can end up with a hefty fine and the loss of your driver’s license for a period of one year.

Even just having open liquor onboard the kayak gets you a $200 fine from the police.

You can learn more about Canadian boating laws here.

United Kingdom Kayak DUI Laws

In the UK, the laws aren’t quite as strict for kayakers. The law of the land states that vessels are anything  over 23 feet in length.

That being said, the law does allow for DUI offenses to be punished in boaters as a part of section 80 of the Railways & Transport Safety Act 2003.

You can learn a bit more about drinking alcohol in terms of federal boating laws in the UK here.

And if you’re a rowdy drunk, then you can expect to be picked up for public intoxication by the local police.

We suggest that you check with the local authorities before heading out if you’re in the UK and planning on throwing back a few in your kayak. Cause we definitely don’t want you to get a DUI or end up in the clink.

Croatia Kayak DUI Laws

If you’re doing a bit of kayaking while visiting Croatia, then you should not drink at all. The country appears to have a zero tolerance policy on alcohol consumption and driving a boat.

We’re not sure if a kayak is considered by law to be classified as a boat, but it’s best to err on the side of caution here.

Penalties are quite steep if you are caught driving a boat while drinking. And you certainly don’t want to be arrested for public intoxication.

The last thing you want is to end up in a Croatian jail while on your vacation in Europe.

Australia Kayak DUI Laws

Like in Croatia, you should leave the alcohol at home if you’re going kayaking in Australia. Though the Aussies seem pretty laid back and chill, their boating laws are no joke when it comes to alcohol consumption.

Under the law in Australia, kayaks are classified as boats. And that means that kayaks are subject to the same rules and regulations as boats of all sizes.

For alcohol consumption, Australia has a zero tolerance policy for boats. So zero drinking is allowed in the kayak.

Learn more about the local boating laws in Australia here.

New Zealand Kayak DUI Laws

If think a quick trip from Australia to New Zealand will change your luck, then you’re mistaken. The Kiwis have also taken a tough stance on drinking from any type of watercraft – including a kayak.

In fact, New Zealand law allows for you to be prosecuted if you are found intoxicated in a kayak there. And yes, even tourists are expected to know the local boating laws.

You can learn more about the maritime laws in New Zealand here.

The Takeaway

Though there seem to be a few places in the world where you can get as drunk as you want in your kayak without getting a DUI, there’s still a good chance that you can get arrested for something else like public intoxication.

So, it’s best to not bring the alcohol with you in the kayak. Plus, if you get into any trouble out in the water, being drunk could hinder your chances of staying afloat if you end up in the water.

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