If you live in Saskatchewan and you’ve been wondering why lawmakers felt the need to pass emergency laws to stop drunk drivers, you probably haven’t heard the new information on Saskatchewan impaired driving rates recently released by Statistics Canada.
Turns out, Saskatchewan topped every other province in Canada for impaired driving charges in 2015. They had 575 impaired driving charges per 100,000, and that number is almost triple the national rate of 201 charges per 100,000 population.
Why is the rate so high in the prairie province? According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), there are a few reasons.
Young population = more impaired driving deaths
Alcohol-related crashes are one of the leading causes of death for young people, and Saskatchewan has a lot of young drivers. To fight this Saskatchewan has just passed a new zero tolerance law that will penalize any drunk driver under the age of twenty one. If that driver is stopped with any amount of alcohol in his or her system, he or she will receive a sixty day driver’s license suspension.
Saskatchewan did have a zero tolerance law on the books before this new law, but it only applied to drivers age nineteen and younger and all new drivers.
High enforcement but fewer tools to deal with drunk drivers
There’s no doubt that police in Saskatchewan are out in full force to deal with impaired drivers, but until recently they’ve lacked the tools needed to deal with so many problem drivers. One of the ways they’re fighting that is to fund additional Automatic License Plate Readers. These devices automatically read the license plates of the vehicles in the surrounding area, and SGI has spent over a million dollars to bring the police vehicle fleet up to date. With forty seven plate readers at their disposal, they’ll be able to stop more offenders who are driving on a suspended licenses.
It’s good to be number one, but not when you’re number one in impaired driving charges. Thankfully lawmakers have already taken the steps necessary to stop the flow of Saskatchewan impaired driving charges, and hopefully these steps are all that’s necessary to do the job.