Can You Get A DUI In A Kayak Or Canoe?


As canoe’s and kayak’s get cheaper, and the popularity grows, we have seen a huge increase in small watercraft on our lakes and rivers. This means that boats, swimmers, and kayakers are all sharing the same spots, and fun times on the water. They are now moving from boats to smaller more manageable watercraft that can fit on the roof of your car, instead of needing a truck or SUV to pull it. This can be great, but what about those people that are enjoying adult alcoholic beverages?

Can you get a DUI in a kayak or canoe? Yes, you can get a DUI in a canoe or kayak, even without a motor attached. While you might think that you can only get a DUI in a motorized vehicle, most states DUI laws for cars are identical for marine vessels, and do not require a motor. Lakes are constantly patrolled for anyone operating a recreational vehicle under the influence, even ones that require it to be powered by humans. They do have the right to approach, and check you for being under the influence, and they will arrest you and confiscate your canoe or kayak.

Safety First

Before you go out and buy a kayak, it is important to understand that no matter what, you need to think of safety first. Even if you are not planning on drinking, you need to wear a life vest at all times. This is going to help you in case the kayak or canoe flips over, which they do a lot, especially for beginners. If you are under the influence of alcohol, wearing a life jacket will save your life in the event of it tipping. There may also be swimmers and children playing in the water, so be careful how much you drink because kayaks are long, and you may not see someone in time before you hit them with your kayak. Always think of the people around you when operating this type of craft.

Does Alcohol Affect You Differently On Water?

Drinking alcohol on land is different than drinking alcohol and water. Water is not solid like the ground is, and when you drink, your equilibrium is thrown off, which can be a problem on land. Factor in that your kayak or canoe will be swaying sid to side, and rolling with the waves, so if you get motion sick, it will increase in a kayak or canoe. In a boat, you will be more stabilized, so you might not feel the effects as much as you will in a kayak. You will also have your sense of direction thrown off because of the “rolling” motion in the water, so you must take extra care or you could get turned around much easier.

Other Dangers

When you are out on the lake, there is a lot more to look out for than just swimmers, and kids playing. There are boats going everywhere, making giant wakes that can flip your kayak over in a single wave, as well as bigger boats that might not even see you at all. Most lakes have a direction that they must boat in, so it is good to quickly learn that and stay to it, and not take your kayak out to the middle of the lake where you might not be seen, and ultimately hit by a boater. It is also good to look out for tree’s and branches sticking out of the water, and getting stuck in kelp, or algae can be hard to get out of and paddle through. Rocks can also gouge your kayak, or crack your wood canoe, so watch out for shallow water.

Environment Issues

Drinking and kayaking is not just bad for humans, it can also be very harmful for fish and other wildlife. Say you take your kayak out, and it has an ice chest, and fishing gear, and other stuff. You have had too much alcohol, and your kayak or canoe flips over, and all of your stuff falls out and into the water. Trash, gear, and food wrappers start sinking to the bottom of the lake. This can be very harmful to the fish and the environment because there is no one that is going down to the bottom to get your trash. Be safe and keep your gear, food and trashed strapped to your kayak.

Think Of The Costs

There is no getting around it, DUI’s are expensive, and they disrupt your life. In California, you can lose your drivers license, go to jail for 6 months, get fined up to $1000 dollars plus costs, at least 3 months of DUI school, and be on probation for up to 5 years, and that is on your first offense! If you keep getting them, you will face higher penalties, and jail time. If you somehow hurt someone, even if it your first one, you will face worse charges against you. Be safe, and drink responsibly, and you should be fine, but always look at your state and local law enforcement website or ask them what will happen if you are caught boating under the influence.

Final Thoughts

Kayaks and canoes are a lot of fun, but still need to be treated like a boat, especially if you are drinking alcohol. You can get a DUI for kayaking under the influence, and the police are patrolling, and WILL stop you if they think you are doing something stupid, and under the influence. Think of the penalties, other people, and the environment before you get drunk and hop in a kayak. Do this, and you will be fine out on the water.

Related Topics

Can you Canoe or Kayak In A River?

Can you canoe or kayak in a river? Yes, you can kayak and canoe in a river if done responsibly. Never take your kayak or canoe into any rapids where you could potentially tip over and fall out. Kayaks and canoes should be taken only to places where the rushing water will not make you lose your balance. It is a good idea to strap down any gear and food you might be bringing.

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