Saskatchewan is at the top of a very unpopular list. The prairie province has the highest rate of impaired driving out of all of the provinces in Canada, and it’s the number one reason why people are dying on Saskatchewan roads. It’s a problem that needs a solution, so it’s not surprising that people would try to think outside of the box to solve it.
Because South Dakota has a high rate of drunk driving crashes, ranking #8 out of the worst states for drunk driving in 2014, CBC Radio’s Morning Edition recently took a look at how that US state has dealt with their drunk driving problem.
South Dakota has implemented the 24/7 Sobriety program in addition to other penalties in place for drunk driving. The program requires an offender to visit the sheriff’s office to take breath tests. The tests are spaced 12 hours apart, and if the offender fails the test, they are subject to penalties such as 24 hours in jail. Since implementing the program in 2008, the coordinator of 24/7 has said that there has been a 12% drop in repeat drunk driving arrests in South Dakota.
The problem with submitting to breath tests spaced 12 hours apart? It doesn’t stop someone from driving drunk if he or she makes a mistake and starts drinking in between the tests, and if someone drives drunk there’s a strong likelihood they could crash and kill someone. With an ignition interlock in the vehicle, that simply can’t happen.
The province recently changed their impaired driving laws to make ignition interlocks mandatory for all offenders who are charged with a criminal code conviction of over. 08, impaired, or refusal to submit to a breathalyzer. The offender must install an ignition interlock for a period of one year if he or she is a first time offender, 2 years if that person is a second time offender, and 5 years for a 3rd time offender.
Ignition interlocks work, and the success rate of the devices has been well documented. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in the United States recently released a report on how ignition interlocks have stopped 1.77 million drunk drivers in the United States. That’s 1.77 million drivers with ignition interlocks installed who attempted to turn the key in the ignition after drinking. The car wouldn’t start thanks to the ignition interlock, and the choice to drink and drive was taken out of the person’s hands.
Saskatchewan is on the right track with ignition interlocks, and if South Dakota wants to take a big step in cracking down on their drunk driving problem, lawmakers down in that state should take MADD’s recommendation and pass an all offender ignition interlock law.