In terms of harsh crack downs on impaired drivers, Saskatchewan just went to the head of the class. Not only did they toughen up their ignition interlock laws by extending the interlock program from one year to two years for anyone arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .16, they’re also investing heavily in a new technology that gives them the power to know exactly who’s driving on the road with them: automated license plate readers (ALPRs).
ALPRs are computers with screens that are installed in the interior of a patrol car. While driving, the officer can easily see the screen and adjust a camera that’s located on the patrol car’s exterior, and when he or she drives around the camera will automatically scan license plates near the patrol car and run them the ALPR computer connected to several databases.
By scanning license plates, the police officer is able to immediately identify whether a vehicle was stolen or whether the driver has a suspended license due to an impaired driving conviction or other reason. If that particular license plate is of interest to the police officer, the ALPR will ping and the officer will know so they can act quickly while the car is still in range.
Saskatchewan General Insurance (SGI) currently has fifteen automated license plate readers that are used in the Combined Traffic Services Saskatchewan pilot program. Because they cost approximately $20,000 each, they’re going to invest an additional $800,000 in order to bring in thirty two more so that all vehicles involved in the pilot program will have them.
Stricter ignition interlock laws and the expansion of the ALPR pilot program are all part of a tough new stance Saskatchewan is taking on their impaired drivers. Given this year’s scary hike in impaired driving crashes and arrests and the cavalier attitude toward drunk driving in the province, these changes can’t come a moment too soon.