There are a lot of reasons why people drink and drive in Canada, but in Saskatchewan most of the reasons people cite after they’re caught are fairly similar: they live in rural areas and had no other way home, it was only a short distance so it was safe to drink and drive, or they really didn’t think they were drunk at all.
At the end of the day what matters in Saskatchewan is not how they explain their reasons for drinking and driving, it’s the sheer number of people who are choosing to drink and drive at all. Saskatchewan has always had the worst drunk driving record in Canada, and if the latest data out of Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is any indication, that first-place designation isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
SGI released new data on December 2016 drunk driving and there were 343 charges for impaired driving charges, blood alcohol content (BAC) over .08, and refusing to submit to a breathalyzer. Unfortunately this was the third month in a row where police have arrested a significant amount of drunk drivers, and they saw 330 drunk drivers in October and 279 in November.
That’s a lot of drunk drivers on the roads in Saskatchewan, and it’s because of these drivers that the Saskatchewan government felt the need to pass emergency impaired driving laws. As of January 1st vehicles will be impounded, zero tolerance will be enforced, and drunk drivers will be required to install an ignition interlock for a longer period of time.
During peak times like Christmas and New Years, when more drunk driver than ever are on the roads, SGI promotes safe rides home, sends out PSA’s on the dangers of drunk driving, and law enforcement step up the checkpoints. That hasn’t seemed to matter so far.
Will the new impaired driving laws now in effect make a difference to Saskatchewan drunk drivers? Time will tell, but with the strictest ignition interlock laws in the entire country, Saskatchewan has a chance of takign themselves off the top of the list for worst impaired driving records.