It’s traditional in December to take a look back at the year’s highs and lows. That’s what the powers that be at Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) must be doing right now, and after the October the province just had, they are probably extremely thankful they stepped in and passed emergency ignition interlock restrictions and improved impaired driving laws.
During an October traffic safety blitz, law enforcement in Saskatchewan charged 335 people with impaired driving. Out of those 335, 314 received Canadian Criminal Code charges for impaired driving, over .08, or refusing to submit to a breath test. There were also numerous drivers charged with a warn range violation because they had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between .04 and .08.
This is an increase over September when the province saw 240 drunk driving charges, and SGI says that works out to an average of eight people per day arrested for driving impaired. That number of arrests is shocking, but it’s even more shocking when you think about how many people drove drunk in the province but managed to not get arrested.
It was for these reasons that brought the impaired driving debate to a head this past fall, and now Saskatchewan residents will ring in 2017 with brand new impaired driving laws. As of January 1st, drunk drivers with a BAC in the warn range will have their vehicles impounded for three days.
The three day restriction for people who aren’t over .08 will hit drivers hard, but it’s the ignition interlock law improvements that promise to take drunk drivers off the roads in Saskatchewan. If you have a BAC over 0.16, you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, and it’s your first offense, you’ll be required to install an ignition interlock for two years. If it’s your second offense you’ll have to use an ignition interlock for five years, and anything over three offenses and you’ll be spending ten years with an interlock in your vehicle.
If October was that busy for drunk drivers in Saskatchewan, it’s hard to imagine what the holiday season will bring. It makes you wonder if all law enforcement and SGI want for Christmas this year is for January 1st to come faster, because those new ignition interlock and impaired driving laws will save lives.