Drunk driving crashes are becoming so common in Saskatchewan that it’s not surprising when another one happens. But just because it happens frequently doesn’t lessen how tragic each and every one of these crashes are.
A family killed on New Year’s Day near Saskatoon, a man killed while training his dog in Regina, and a conservation officer hit while directing traffic: these are just three fatal drunk driving crashes that have happened in Saskatchewan over the past few years, and now another tragic crash can be added to the list.
Daphne Schmidt, a daycare worker from Cupar, Saskatchewan, was a passenger in a car along with three other people when the car was struck head on by a drunk driver. She was a mother, a grandmother, and a daycare worker, and the small town is mourning her loss.
The driver of the other vehicle has been charged with impaired driving causing death, impaired over .08, and dangerous driving causing death. These charges are similar to those received by other people causing drunk driving crashes in Saskatchewan, and it’s drivers like these that have caused the provinces to toughen up their drunk driving laws.
As of January 1st, Saskatchewan drunk driving laws have changed so that any drunk driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .04 will their vehicle impounded for three days. If you’re under twenty one there is zero tolerance for drinking and driving, and the same ban on drinking and driving applies for new drivers.
By far the best part of the new drunk driving laws are the upgrades to the ignition interlock policies. Saskatchewan, long since the province with the worst impaired driving record, now has the strongest ignition interlock laws in the entire country.
If someone is driving with a BAC of. 16 or greater, they’ll have to use an interlock for two years. If they are a repeat offender, they’ll have to use an ignition interlock for five years. Any subsequent offenses will net the offender ten years with an interlock.
These laws are the best chance the province has to stop drunk drivers that are taking the lives of innocent people like Daphne Schmidt. Let’s hope this is the year that Saskatchewan starts seeing a significant drop in drunk driving.