Driving under the influence has been a problem in Saskatchewan, even though there are strict laws to prevent this. According to a recent Global News article, the leading cause of death in the province is impaired driving. Just a few years ago, 39% of traffic deaths involved drug or alcohol use.
The times are changing and the provincial government is becoming more serious. The strict laws have transformed into a zero-tolerance program. Here’s everything you need to know.
As of December 18, 2018, Canada’s impaired driving laws were updated in the Criminal Code of Canada. This new law allows police officers to demand breathalyzer tests from any driver they pull over. Previously, officers could only test drivers if they had a reasonable suspicion the person was impaired. Any driver who refuses to take the test can be charged.
This new law also eliminates the “bolus drinking defence” which was the idea that a driver just consumed alcohol right before driving and it was not absorbed yet. Under the new laws, it is now illegal to be at or over the alcohol limit within two hours of being behind the wheel.
Officers have been trained to perform Drug Recognition Evaluations and roadside saliva testers are coming in early 2019 to detect recent drug use. Driving high comes with the same penalties as alcohol-impaired driving.
With updated laws, there are updated penalties. Formerly, the mandatory minimum fines were: $1,000 for the first offence, 30 days imprisonment for the second offence and 120 days in jail for a third offence.
Fines can be as high as $2,500 for a blood alcohol content of 160 mg or more and a minimum $2,000 fine if a driver refuses to be breathalyzed.
For full details on fines for impaired drivers on all levels (young drivers, learner, etc.) can be found on SGI’s website.
Every month, Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) chooses an area of traffic safety to focus on. January’s focus: impaired driving. After the legalization of cannabis in October and new federal and provincial impaired driving laws, SGI said that the focus is as relevant as ever. “Make 2019 the year you don’t even think about driving impaired,” said Penny McCune, Chief Operating Officer of the Auto Fund.
SGI has been diligently posting about impaired driving on their social media accounts, especially during the holiday season. They were a proud sponsor of “Wing In the New Year” which provided a FREE “wingman” service from the city buses in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw. Bus rides were being offered for free all night long for New Year’s Eve festivities and have been available for a number of years now.
Apparently, other countries around the world have tried these strict impaired driving laws and saw a decrease in deaths and accidents. However, recent news articles have surfaced saying the new laws won’t hold up. According to the Leader-Post, Regina lawyers say the new laws will likely create more problems.
“If you compare it to, for example, police officers detaining somebody for an investigation, they need a reasonable suspicion. And if they don’t have a reasonable suspicion, the detention is unlawful …,” said Aaron Fox. “This legislation really flies completely in the face of that.”
Whatever your opinion is on the new driving laws, Universal Collision Centre highly recommends getting a safe ride if you’re planning on consuming alcohol or drugs. Do not drive impaired and run the risk of ending lives, including your own.