Just in time for boating season, clarifying Czechia's new rules for drinking on the water

The leader of a canoe or raft can now drink a small amount of alcohol, but only on sections of river that have limited traffic.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 21.03.2023 10:06:00 (updated on 21.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Some new rules will apply this boating season in Czechia. As of March 1, some boaters have been able to consume small amounts of alcohol in waterways with limited traffic.

The new rules apply to vessels that do not have engines, such as canoes, kayaks, and rafts. People guiding the boats can now have up to 0.5 per mille (0.05 percent) blood alcohol content. This is a similar level to what is allowed for driving a car in many countries, though Czechia has zero tolerance for drivers.

Change only affects the 'leader' of the boat

The new law has caused some confusion due to its vague wording. Transport Ministry spokesman František Jemelka told news server Deník N that the new rules only apply to the leader of the boat. Other people on the boat can “carry out activities under the influence of alcohol without restrictions,” he said.

Police Presidium spokesperson Hana Rubášová also told the daily that the law considers the vessel's leader to be the one who indicates the direction of the voyage – meaning the helmsman on a canoe and one to two people on a raft. The legislation does not classify other people on these vessels as crew members. These, for example, are vacationers on canoes or rafts who do not determine the direction of the vessel, she said.

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Under the previous law, only the leader of the boat had to refrain from alcohol, and others were already able to drink, Rubášová added.

Only some sections of rivers

Another cause of confusion is the limitations on where it applies. State Navigation Administration head Klára Němcová told Radio Czech Radio that the law does not apply to sections of the Labe from Přelouč to the state border, and on the Vltava from České Budějovice to where it joins the Labe in Mělník. And then it also applies to Morava from river kilometer 196 to the confluence with the Dyje, including the Baťa Canal.

Proponents of the law said that drinking while boating was very common, and it would make sense to set rules that could be enforced. When the law passed, the Transportation Ministry called it a compromise solution that affects only clearly defined activities carried out according to selected rules.

The police as well as staff from State Navigation Administration will check the alcohol levels. Penalties range from a warning to a fine of CZK 100,000.

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