Back in 2011, Statistics Canada gave Saskatchewan a top ranking on their rating of impaired driving charges. The province came in well above the national average for impaired driving, with 700 charges per 100,000 people compared to 262 charges per 100,000 people for Canada.
If you’ve ever wondered how those statistics pan out in real life, December 2016 was a good example. Saskatchewan police laid 300 impaired driving charges in the province during a December impaired driving spotlight, and 8 people were charged with warn range blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) between .04 to .08. Compare that to Alberta and you can see the drastic difference in numbers: 46 people received impaired driving charges in the entire province of Alberta in December, a number that was down from 70 in December 2014.
The charges in Saskatchewan included a variety of offenses, from impaired driving to having a blood alcohol concentration over .08. There were also a few people who refused the breathalyzer and thousands of tickets were given out for speeding, aggressive driving, and distracted driving.
The problem in Saskatchewan isn’t lax impaired driving laws. The province has some of the strictest laws on the books in Canada. A first offender in Saskatchewan may receive:
- An immediate roadside drivers license suspension
- They could have their vehicle impounded, and how long it’s impounded depends on their BAC: 30 days if their BAC is .08 to .15 or 60 days if they have a BAC of .16 and over
- They are on the hook for storage and towing costs
- They may be required to complete a Safe Driver Recognition program that costs $2,250
- They are required to install an ignition interlock for one year
Despite the stiff penalties, despite the risk of a deadly crash, and despite the presence of police on the roads patrolling for drunk drivers, there are a lot of people in Saskatchewan still making the choice to drive drunk. The question is why? If police could find the answer to that, Saskatchewan roads would be safer for everyone on them.