Floating parties not allowed

Boaters are allowed to indulge in an alcoholic beverage on Okanagan Lake (as long as they aren't driving) – but they can't band together to create a floating party.

A local woman says she was boating with friends near the Bennett Bridge on Sunday when they decided to lash together with two other boats.

The Kelowna RCMP marine unit then pulled alongside to check for proper equipment and licences to operate a boat, which the boater expected.

What she didn't expect was when the constable informed the group it was illegal to tie up together while indulging in adult beverages.

“They said if you tie up with other boats, it's public property and you can't drink on public property,” said the woman.

Const. Steve Holmes said, “That is exactly right. It's been on the books for a while now – where boats are lashed together, you have created a public space.”

Holmes said drinking is allowed in an individual boat, but when they are lashed together it falls under the same rules as drinking in any public place, which is illegal.

“Whether is it space on land or created on water, it falls under the same provincial regulations,” said Holmes, adding the aim of the law is cut down on floating parties.

Holmes said anyone caught operating a boat under the influence of alcohol faces the same charges and punishments as an impaired driver on the road.

Along with patrols on area lakes, Holmes said police will occasionally observe a boat from shore and then stop the boat as it docks to check if the operator has been drinking.

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